- Leslie Sand is a volunteer with the Northeast Iowa Citizens Climate Lobby.
- Madeleine Para is the executive director of the Citizens Climate Lobby.
Climate change is increasingly creating a financial burden for the Iowans.
We feel the pain of rising household costs caused by America’s dependence on carbon-generating energy, the interests of international oil producers, and the disasters that exacerbate climate change.
Meanwhile, the invasion of Ukraine has highlighted how autocrats like Vladimir Putin can finance wars and destroy lives because of the world’s dependence on fossil fuels.
Extreme weather, exacerbated by heat-trapping emissions that warm our planet, will play a critical role in inflation growth in 2021. Around the world, we see worrying weather events impacting raw material supplies, which in turn drive up prices in Iowa.
Prices at the pump, for milk, fresh produce and more, are all more difficult to tolerate.
If that wasn’t enough, rebuilding costs from climate-related hurricanes, floods, and wildfires would skyrocket. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has pegged the cost of the 2020 Iowa derecho at $7.5 billion, and says extreme weather in the US alone will cost 688 lives and $145 billion by 2021.
Air pollution from fossil fuels is linked to millions of deaths, but polluting industries continue to get free permits to emit heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere, which will cause more warming. This exacerbates the extreme weather and climate disasters that already cost us. This market failure means the true cost of carbon is paid elsewhere. People are saddled with soaring homeowners insurance and flood insurance in places that were once considered low risk.
Coal, oil and natural gas will receive $5.9 trillion in subsidies in 2020. Meanwhile, the conflict in Ukraine threatens Europe’s dependence on natural gas. Experts agree that a faster transition to clean energy will result in a more stable energy economy worldwide.
Encouragingly, a new report from Stanford University shows that switching from fossil fuels to cleaner renewables will reduce household annual energy costs per capita by about 63%, create millions of new jobs and save lives. In addition, phasing out MidAmerican coal by 2030 could save Iowans $1.2 billion.
Federally imposed carbon costs imposed on polluting industries will accelerate this transition and let the market decide which clean technology wins. What’s more, money from these fees can be returned as “carbon cashback” checks to American households, providing invaluable monthly support.
With clean energy destined to become cheaper and more popular, the demand for fossil fuels will decrease and adjust over time, helping to cut the price of carbon-intensive energy sources along the way.
Volunteers with the Citizens’ Climate Lobby in Iowa urged Senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley to support carbon pricing with dividends returned directly to households. It’s a market-based, income-neutral solution that they should prefer.
The transition to cheaper, more reliable and greener energy needs to be done more quickly. Our elected leaders must make sound economic decisions to secure a livable world and leave Americans with more money in their pockets too.
Leslie Sand is a volunteer with the Northeast Iowa Citizens Climate Lobby. A native of Cedar Rapids, he lives in Decorah. Her four grandchildren also live in Iowa, and deserve a stable climate future. Madeleine Para is the executive director of the Citizens Climate Lobby.