Alok Sharma, President of the COP26 summit gestures during a press conference at the end of the COP26 U.N. Climate Summit in Glasgow, Scotland, Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021. Credit: Alistair Grant / AP

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Climate change policy is in the news these days. Policy is wonky. I’m not. I want something that makes sense. Here’s something: A climate solution that pays families.

Climate change is costing money, big money, averaging $100 billion per year and increasing, to repair damage from U.S. wildfires, hurricanes, floods and droughts that keep showing up. That doesn’t include people’s flooded-out and now homeless relatives. Climate change comes from tailpipes and chimneys — any place where fossil fuels are burned. Strangely, the smelly part is not the climate-change part, though it can still make people sick. It’s the seemingly innocent carbon dioxide that makes our air and oceans warmer every year.

So let’s charge for those CO2 emissions. We’ll call that a “fee,” to be paid by coal, oil and gas companies, based on the volume of the stuff they dig up or pump out of the ground, multiplied by its pollution potential when burned. A rising fee could cut emissions 50 percent (from 2005 levels) by 2030.

Then let’s give the money back to everyone in equal shares  — a “cashback dividend.” People and businesses will be thinking: “How can we keep our costs down?” And because solar and wind costs are now about on par with fossil fuels, and getting cheaper by the year, industries that get moving will bring goods to market cheaper.

Sounds like a win-win to me. Hardly wonky!

Peter Garrett 

Maine State Coordinator

Citizens Climate Lobby

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