Time to charge the true cost of fossil fuels:)

There is a major disconnect that makes it hard to act on climate change. Naomi Klein, a writer, and environmental activist say, “Our economic system and our planetary system are now at war.” Only one of these can be changed, and it’s not the laws of nature.

The laws of nature decide what will happen with global warming and how it will affect us. When we burn fossil fuels, the pollution from them traps heat in the air, which makes it hotter. When it gets hotter, polar ice melts and the seawater rises, which floods coastal areas. When the air gets hotter, it pulls moisture out of the land. This causes droughts and makes forests easy targets for wildfires. Warmer air can hold more water, so when it rains, it rains so hard that it’s called an “atmospheric river.”

The rules on Earth are set by the laws of physics. When scientists say that a 2 °C rise in average global temperatures will cause climate disasters that can’t be fixed, this is not just their opinion; it is based on well-known climatological principles.Th ere are many kinds of economic systems. The rules for the economy are set by politicians. If the results of economic markets are not what society wants, the rules can be changed by the government.

“The problem of climate change is a fundamental failure of markets,” said Sir Nicholas Stern, who was the former chief economist of the World Bank. Fossil fuel products have never been priced in a way that takes into account the real costs to society of the diseases, deaths, and damage to the planet that they cause. The government has let coal, oil, and gas companies pollute for free, leaving the public to pay for their pollution. This makes these fuels look like they cost less, which makes people less likely to invest in clean energy. If the price of these dirty fuels reflected what they really cost society, clean energy alternatives would have driven them off the market years ago.

Time to charge the true cost of fossil fuels

With their huge amounts of money and political power, fossil fuel companies have been able to put the cost of their pollution on the public for decades. Pollution is one of the main causes of respiratory diseases, which kill more than 8 million people each year around the world. Heat waves, rising sea levels, chronic droughts, destructive wildfires, and other extreme weather events that are linked to climate change are expected to cost the public economy trillions of dollars.

Climate mitigation policies should be built around fixing this economic mistake. Economists have been saying for decades that the government should use its taxing power to make fossil fuel companies pay a tax on their carbon pollution. A carbon fee, a cash-back dividend, and a border carbon adjustment are some of the specific policies. If these policies were put into place, the demand for fossil fuels would go down, and renewable energy would be able to compete better. A border carbon tariff would encourage all countries, including China,

to adopt similar policies, and the tax money collected from polluting industries and given back to consumers would make up for higher energy prices. These market-based policies don’t raise or lower taxes, protect low-and middle-income communities, or bring about a global solution.

The policies on the environment in the new Inflation Reduction Act are important. The transition to clean energy will be sped up by the new law, which gives billions of dollars in tax credits, rebates, investments, and loans. Millions of new jobs will be created; energy costs will go down; the air will be cleaner; and our grandchildren will have renewed hope for a cleaner, safer, and healthier future.

But this law won’t get us to our climate goals fast enough on its own. Scientists say that we must cut emissions in half by 2030 if we want to avoid effects that can’t be fixed.

If there was no hurry to stop burning fossil fuels and we had decades to switch to clean energy, the market would eventually figure out what to do. People and businesses in most parts of the U.S. choose clean, renewable energy sources like solar and wind because they are cheaper than fossil fuels. However, fossil fuel companies and their political allies are still doing everything they can to slow the change and maintain their profits.

Rapid decarbonization is possible

In its most recent reports, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which is made up of the world’s top scientists, said that taxing carbon pollution is the most powerful and effective way to stop climate change. They also said that the only thing stopping the transition to a clean energy economy is politics.

Rapid decarbonization is possible. There is clean, cheap, renewable energy available. The economic plans that will speed up the change are ready to be used. All that’s needed is for the government to decide to do it.

Robert “Bob” Taylor is a freelance journalist who writes about environmental issues. He used to work for Shell oil company as an economic analyst. One of the books he worked on was “Reaching Net Zero: What it Takes to Solve the Global Climate Crisis

Craig B. Smith has a Ph.D. and used to teach at UCLA. He is an engineer. He used to be the president and chairman of DMJM, an international company that does architecture and engineering. He has written several books about how to save energy and how to stop global warming. His most recent book is “Reaching Net Zero: What it takes to Solve the Global Climate Crisis,” which he wrote with another person.

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