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Fayetteville Supports Carbon Fee And Dividend

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Global WarmingFuture Legislation Could Curb Impact Of Global Warming On The People

By Terrah Baker

When climate change begins to take affect, it will be the citizens who feel the hardships, according to scientists. They often don’t specifically mention this, but they don’t have to when they talk about the looming droughts, unpredictable super-storms, and high food and energy prices — these are all things that affect people and their livelihood.

That’s why Sarah Marsh of the Fayetteville City Council knew it was important to take action when approached by local organizations OMNI350 and Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL). She knows from prior training that it is the cities who will ultimately tend to their citizens when disaster strikes. The solution was to pass “A Resolution To Support A National Revenue-Neutral Carbon Fee And Dividend In Order To Help Slow Climate Change.”

The Fayetteville Resolution

Although a long name, the idea is simple: holding those accountable who contribute to the problem, while subsidizing the citizens who are affected by those problems. In the real world, that means adding a fee to carbon emitting energy sources, allowing renewable energies to look that much more appealing to investors and corporations. Potentially, it also has the added benefit of job creation and cutting government spending, according to Marsh and other supporters.

“My gut reaction was ‘yes,’ I think it’s important we take a stand on this. The message in the last election was that the people want their government to focus on cutting waste and creating jobs. This legislation does both,” Marsh explained.

The resolution passed by the City Council on July 16 didn’t support a specific legislation, as many that have arisen do not call for a 100 percent return of fees to the American public. Simply, it says a city that supports sustainable technologies, a better future and acknowledges the real dangers of climate change also supports legislation of this kind.

Behind The Scenes

The 350.org and CCL are national organizations with regional chapters that lobby government officials and spread knowledge to the public on what a Carbon Fee and Dividend could actually look like, and the benefits it would have. One of the most frequent questions they said they receive is how consumers will see these fees. The best example of direct change is what consumers can expect when filling up.

“A $1 per ton increase in the carbon fee would equal about 1 penny on the price of gas. So if the carbon fee started at $15/ton, gasoline would go up by 15 cents per gallon the first year and 10-15 cents each year afterward,” according to their website.

This may seem like a lot, but according to activists, this is nothing compared to what climate change will cost if precautions aren’t put in place as soon as possible.

“Even if we cut all emissions now, temperatures would still continue to rise since once CO2 is in the atmosphere, it can continue to affect the climate for thousands of years. This is why we must act quickly,” said Co-chair of OMNI350 and the Fayetteville Chapter of CCL, Shelley Buonaiuto.

According to climate change scientists, it’s just been in the last 50 years CO2 emissions have risen to a “frightening” 400 parts per million, while during the last 800,000 years the world has fluctuated between only 170 – 300 parts per million. Scientists say we must cut these numbers back to 350 parts per million (hence the national organization 350.org) to save ourselves from the full effects of climate change.

By adding fees to carbon usage, supporters say the legislation would encourage the development of renewable energy, thereby creating new businesses and jobs, and make the largest users of the old energy sources pay for the damage their chosen fuel ultimately costs.

Fayetteville’s not the only city passing similar resolutions. Eureka Springs passed the same resolution written by CCL member Jerry Landrum, on May 29. And nationally, mostly Democratic legislatures are getting on board with the idea, proposing multiple bills that have similar structure and purpose. The one difference in much of the national legislation from the resolution passed by the City of Fayetteville is that instead of a portion of the fees going to government investments in renewable energy, it would all go directly back to the people, who are directly affected.

To learn more about Carbon Fee and Dividend, visit citizensclimatelobby.org/carbon-fee-and-dividend-faq

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