Fossil fuel energy companies have made a fortune, because they have been allowed to externalize the costs of the health and environmental damage they cause onto private individuals and US taxpayers, creating artificially low energy prices and erecting a barrier to entry by green technology into the energy market. More than any other factor, the carbon we pump into the atmosphere every day, because the companies don’t have to pay for the damage, has increased the acceleration toward global climate change.
Representatives from 194 countries will meet in Doha, Qatar from November 26 to December 7 for the latest round of international climate talks.
The key question for many is whether or not President Obama will chart new territory for leadership by the United States, a country which has long refused to make the necessary commitments that scientists say are necessary to avert a 2°C rise in global temperatures and the associated climate change such warming is likely to trigger.
As this question about Obama lingers environmental campaigners in the US, global leaders more broadly are being called to the challenge as well. On Friday, the UN expert on global solidarity said that without international unity, the fight against climate change would not be won.
Virginia Dandan, charged by the UN to report on issues of global solidarity, urged world governments to see beyond the cost of climate change in terms of money, and to adopt a strong commitment to international cooperation as a key element towards a successful round of talks in Doha… [emphasis added]
Inserted from <Common Dreams>
Photo credit: One Green Gnome
I fully agree with the author that international cooperation is needed, and I am not satisfied with Obama’s environmental record. In his defense, however, the presence of eight Democratic Senators who would goose step with Republicans on energy policy made progress impossible. The following DINOS have joined Republicans to support the Keystone XL Pipeline: Sens. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), and Jim Webb (D-Va.).
I also recognize Obama’s need to walk a fine line to protect the recovery in progress and his need to depend on fossil fuels until green energy sources are sufficiently developed to take over the load of US energy consumption.
For now, I would propose two things, which Obama cannot do on his own. First, eliminate all subsidies for fossil fuel companies, except for subsidies to programs for carbon removal. Second, institute a carbon tax just high enough to make it less expensive for energy companies to upgrade to the best anti-carbon technology available than to pay the tax. The savings from the subsidies and proceeds from the tax, should be divided between deficit reduction, carbon removal, and green energy subsidies and R&D. I certainly would love to see other suggestions.
We need to take every opportunity to pressure our elected officials in both parties to join the international effort to stop climate change.