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📄 "Carbon Pricing Bills & Forest Carbon Offsets"

Carbon Removal Newsroom

Photo by Geran de Klerk / Unsplash

Host: Radhika Moolgavkar
Guest: Chris Barnard | National Policy Director | American Conservation Coalition
Category: 📄 Carbon Policy

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[1:46] “A lot of economists think that the most efficient and the fastest way to tackle climate change is to put a price on carbon, which is, in other words, attacks on carbon, where polluters would pay certain money per tonne of carbon that they emit into the atmosphere. And so that's getting a lot of traction. […] And so there's a bunch of bills that have been introduced this congressional cycle that would put a price on carbon, and then that price would essentially rise every single year to make sure that it keeps kind of pushing people and companies to reduce their emissions. And so a few of the examples are the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, which is the most broadly supported one. […] And then there's other ones, like America's Clean Future Fund Act, The Climate Action Rebate Act, […] [and] The Market Choice Act.”

[3:59] “When approaching this issue of carbon taxes and carbon pricing, you have to bear into account two different approaches. There's the […] theoretical economic kind of ideal approach, and then there's the actual political approach and what the reality is. And so from this kind of theoretical perspective, […] like the vast majority of economists say that the most effective and efficient way to tackle climate change would be by putting a price signal into the market that would encourage polluters to actually stop polluting and to reduce their carbon output. […] But the problem is that elegant economics don't necessarily make good politics. And the reality is that carbon pricing just does not have much political support at all. There are some polls [that] show that Americans are in favor of it. But then when asked about whether they would be willing to pay $10 a month extra to tackle climate change 95% of Americans say no. So there's a question of to what extent do these polls actually reflect people's accurate understanding of what carbon pricing is. And then purely in Congress, there's not even enough support amongst the Democratic Caucus, let alone bipartisan support to pass a significant enough bill on this issue.”

[8:21] “Really the point of a carbon tax […] is not so much punishment, but more pushing the market in a certain direction. And the whole point of that is to actively incentivize companies, polluters, individuals, etc, entrepreneurs to pursue the best energy solutions that would not incur that penalty. And so I'm not sure if just removing subsidies would be as far reaching within that kind of framework of wanting a carbon tax, as kind of the active stick of you will pay more if you emit more. And if you don't emit by getting better technologies, then they have direct incentive to do that. Whereas just removing subsidies does not automatically mean that there's a bigger incentive for more battery storage development, or nuclear or whatever else it is.”

[13:04] “Companies that want to offset the carbon emissions related to the company's existence, will buy a carbon forest offset credit, which means that they essentially give money to a project to save a particular forest that […] sucks a certain amount of carbon out of the air each year. And in doing so they're kind of reducing their net carbon footprint. And so a lot of companies from Microsoft to BP to Google to Apple, pay forest projects to essentially protect the forest and make sure it doesn't get cut down so that more carbon emissions are taken out of the atmosphere and help tackle climate change.”

[13:44] “Obviously, wildfires don't necessarily respect what is conserved forests versus what is just a regular forest. And so there have been a lot of problems with forests that have been paid for to be conserved by these companies are actually being burned down because of some of these wildfires. And so it's kind of opening […] a can of worms, because are these companies actually now reducing their emissions in that sense or not? Because the project they're putting money towards is literally going up in flames. So one of the questions there is, how do we create better insurance policies to make sure that we do that? And also just it ties into a broader question of how do wildfires fit into the fight against climate change.”

[14:28] “Last year, wildfires emitted […] 25 or 30% more carbon dioxide in the state of California than the actual fossil fuel production did in the state. So wildfires are actually contributing pretty significantly to climate change. And we're not doing all that much about it quite yet. So I think it just opens up a very interesting reverse kind of topic about carbon removal because you'd be preventing carbon removal by stopping wildfires.”

[19:04] “We need a lot better forest management and wildfire management to prevent some of these fires from happening. And there's been over a century really, in many places in the West, especially California, of what they call fire suppression tactics as they had this kind of preservationist perspective on nature and cell fires as completely, inherently antithetical to that. And so they did a lot of things that actually were very counterproductive, such as not removing underbrush or refusing to take out dead trees or from burning little areas to make sure that a bigger wildfire can just come through and use everything as tinder and things like that. And those are actually practices that have been used by native tribes around the world to make sure that nature is kind of actively conserved rather than just preserved and left alone.”

Rating: ⚡⚡⚡

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify (Original Title: “Carbon Pricing Bills, Forest Carbon Offsets & a Progressive Platform for Carbon Removal”)
🕰️ 32 min | 🗓️ 08/27/2021
✅ Time saved: 30 min

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