not all carbon legislation
is created equal
leaDing the rene Wable energy revolution
by BRAD COLLINS
Some of it creates jobs and reduces carbon.
Some simply delays the real work.
The legislative challenge
before us is
how to monetize the
from carbon emissions. mitigation of
atmospheric carbon emissions is critical for the
integrity of the global environment, national
security and the country’s prosperity. To get
there, we’ll need to generate the resources to
replace high-carbon energy with low-carbon
energy. it’s more than a challenge. it’s also an
The American Solar energy Society’s
(ASeS) Policy Committee has provided important guidance on how the 111th Congress can
make the mitigation of carbon a win-win (see
ases.org/policy2009). in effect, we make reduction of emissions a national industrial policy.
We use investment in low-carbon energy to
drive massive growth of jobs and revenues. We
put America’s genius for productivity and innovation to work, building global leadership for
American renewable energy businesses.
The most critical features of the ASeS Policy position on carbon legislation are:
- A price, either a carbon auction system or a
carbon tax, must be placed on all carbon sources.
- The price must be collected upstream
where the carbon first enters the economy —
that is, at mines, wells and ports.
- Carbon, 100 percent of it, must generate
revenue. No free allocations should be made to
existing polluters or others.
- Offsetting technologies may receive
incentives but are not permitted to raise the
overall cap on carbon emissions. for instance,
planting trees in the Amazon will not reduce
the requirements for carbon reductions in the
Not all carbon legislation is created equal.
for example, carbon capture and storage creates few jobs and no wealth. it removes a pollutant from a process, and thereby adds cost
to the resource with no offsetting revenue.
Brad Collins is the
of the American
Society ( ases.org).
Renewable energy deployment, on the other
hand, creates both jobs and corporate profits,
and expands tax revenues for local, state and
federal governments. if the argument is purely
economic, carbon legislation needs to support
Time is of the essence. Delay has serious
consequences for both the economy and for
the climate. We’ve already seen this. Because
the country did not move aggressively to support renewables in 2008, progress forecast in
our 2007 jobs analysis didn’t happen. Our latest estimate for our advanced scenario (where
carbon mitigation and green employment
become a national priority) is that, by 2030,
renewable energy and energy efficiency could
provide $4.29 trillion in revenue and employ
37. 2 million Americans. Our forecast a year
earlier for the advanced scenario showed $4.53
trillion and 40.1 million employed.
Every month of delay costs jobs. This
is why ASeS strongly critiques the new version of the Waxman-markey bill, HR 2454,
as passed out of the House energy and Commerce Committee on may 21. By setting the
bar low at the outset, we dramatically delay
the transition to a sustainable-energy economy. We delay millions of good jobs here in the
united States and delay energy independence.
By giving away carbon credits, we reduce the
financial resources available to deploy present
and future clean technologies while we reward
polluters who filled the atmosphere with CO
in the first place.
Legislation should strengthen job-creating
carbon mitigation programs, not weaken them.
As President Barack Obama said:
“We can remain the world’s leading importer of oil, or we can become the world’s leading
exporter of clean energy. We can allow climate
change to wreak unnatural havoc across the
landscape, or we can create jobs working to
prevent its worst effects….The nation that
leads the world in creating new energy sources
will be the nation that leads the 21st-century
global economy.” ST
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