You don’t have to search hard to find an American community already experiencing, firsthand, the devastating impact of climate change. The question is no longer if, but how to respond. For too long, damaging carbon emissions have been left off the balance sheets of the world’s largest polluters. Instead, we are all paying the price. That’s why we need a market-driven solution that will get us to zero emissions.
I introduced a bipartisan plan—the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (H.R. 763)—to put a price on carbon and send a signal across the economy that it is time to switch to clean energy. It starts at a modest $15 per ton fee and quickly ratchets up by $10 per year. It will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 38% by 2030—exceeding our Paris Agreement commitments—and by 90% by 2050, according to estimates from a Columbia University Center on Global Energy Policy report.
It will drive clean power innovations that make business-sense as much as they make climate-sense, and it will create an estimated 2 million net jobs over ten years. We consider the potential rise in energy costs to consumers by giving 100% of net revenues back to the American people as a monthly dividend check, amounting to as much as $367 per month to a family of four. And by making our air cleaner, we can prevent an estimated 13,000 pollution-related deaths. Columbia University estimates that the bill would reduce harmful power plant emissions by 95% by 2030.
We need a drastic turn away from hundreds of years of unchecked carbon pollution toward a carbon-free economy. But we must root this dramatic change in justice. Those who have profited from the destruction of our environment must pay the price. And we must protect the people who have been locked into a carbon-heavy lifestyle through no fault of their own.
It’s important to set goals and targets. But we need to do something to get us there. This bill can do exactly that.