A few months into the new administration, the federal government is off to a roaring start on climate change. President Joe Biden signed executive orders related to climate change in his early days in office, and the White House recently introduced a proposal that elevates climate solutions alongside infrastructure and job goals.
The latest exciting development in climate policy is the introduction of legislation called the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (H.R. 2307). The bill hit the House of Representatives April 1, led by Florida Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL-22) and 28 original co-sponsors, including local U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA-18).
This policy will quickly slash our climate-changing emissions and save American lives by reducing pollution. It also will spur business innovation and lead to affordable clean energy, and it will do all of this while putting money in people’s pockets.
The policy puts a steadily rising price on carbon pollution. This price signal will steer our economy away from fossil fuels, leading to a 30% reduction in carbon emissions in just five years. With this policy in place, the U.S. will be on the path to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 – a critical target, according to the scientific community.
As fossil fuel use drops and emissions decline with this policy, public health will benefit. We could save 4.5 million American lives over the next 50 years by replacing pollution with clean air.
While driving these massive benefits, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act also will provide economic benefits to Americans. Each month, people will receive a carbon dividend, or “carbon cash back,” payment. In other words, the carbon fee revenue will go into people’s pockets to spend with no restrictions. With this policy in place, 85% of Americans come out ahead or essentially break even. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is a longtime supporter of this approach.
This policy is better for business, as well. With this bill, the government simply sets a predictable direction for businesses to move: away from carbon emissions. Then, it’s up to businesses how to move in that direction. Economists expect a policy like the Energy Innovation Act will drive technological innovation, and businesses will provide abundant, affordable and reliable clean energy in response.
Businesses seem to recognize the value of this approach. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently announced its support of a “market-based approach to accelerate emissions reductions,” and the Business Roundtable has explicitly endorsed a carbon price.
Public polling shows 70% of people in our congressional district and 64% of Californians overall want Congress to do more to address global warming. That desire defies partisanship, with majority support for climate action from Republican and Democratic voters across the country. The Energy Innovation Act is a good step forward to put the U.S. on the fast track to a healthy, prosperous future.
Paula Danz of Los Altos is a volunteer with the Silicon Valley North chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby. Mark Reynolds is executive director of Citizens’ Climate Lobby.