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VOICES: Price carbon pollution, pay people, save environment

Concerned about the climate crisis but wondering what can make a difference?

Putting a price on carbon at its source is one important tool.

Simply put, a carbon fee and dividend means that carbon emissions are taxed at their origins, for example,a mining operation or oil extraction, and the money collected is given back to the people.

Support for carbon pricing is growing — it’s now backed by Business Roundtable, Electric Power Supply Association and National Academies of Sciences, Engineering. They follow Federal Reserve chairs, Nobel Laureate economists and prominent organizations and individuals across the nation. Under pressure, even the American Petroleum Institute and U.S. Chamber of Commerce have come on board.

The top 10 economies, except India and U.S., now price carbon. Importantly, the EU has discussed installing a border tax on goods from countries without a carbon price.

In Hawai‘i, there were four carbon-pricing bills this session (versus one last year), and while they failed to proceed this year, support is increasing. Notably, a recent University of Hawai‘i Economic Research Organization study found a carbon fee and dividend policy to be progressive and beneficial to the lower 60% of households.

Carbon pricing will dramatically reduce emissions, save lives and enable a sustainable economy. It’s an essential tool in our climate-action quiver. When coupled with a dividend, it allows households to accommodate the expected rise in fossil fuel costs.

Citizens’ Climate Lobby, with its 190,000 members, supports carbon pricing and dividend legislation like the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act.

This policy can be implemented quickly, and represents a cost-efficient, effective and fair solution. Every household will get a check to cover increased costs. They can also increase their energy efficiency and save extra money. Under this policy, lower-income families will benefit the most, since they use less energy.

This bill just has been reintroduced by Ted Deutch of Florida, and we should urge our representatives, Kai Kahele and Ed Case, to co-sponsor it. There were 86 co-sponsors in the last congress, and there should be even more support for the current one.

You can learn more about carbon pricing and Citizens’ Climate Lobby by attending the upcoming forum sponsored by Kaua‘i Climate Action Coalition, Surfrider and Zero Waste Kauai. “Climate Crisis: Carbon Pricing, A Socially Just Solution,” will be presented by a former Kaua‘i resident and current co-lead of the Hawai‘i Island Chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby via Zoom on Wednesday, April 14, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. To register, go to

To learn more about CCL and to urge our members of congress to act, visit There’s never been a better time to be a citizen environmental activist.


Helen A. Cox is the chair of the Kaua‘i Climate Action Coalition and co-leads the Kaua‘i Chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby.
Source: The Garden Island

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