Nicol is a rising Junior at Skidmore College where she studies Environmental Science and History and is the President of Skidmore’s Environmental Action Club. She has been volunteering with Our Climate since February and is excited to work on supporting carbon pricing, which she views as a real and tangible solution. Nicol is particularly interested in pursuing environmental health-related fields upon graduation and enjoys watching bad game shows, doing yoga, writing and taking photos of her cat, Pepper, in her spare time.
On October 8th the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report stating that we now have 12 years to tackle climate change before its effects become too severe to have any hope of mitigating them. The Earth’s temperature is predicted to rise by 5.4⁰F by 2100. If humans cannot slow down our emissions of greenhouse gasses, and the rise of 5.4⁰F actually occurs, we stand to lose 80% of our coral reefs, and will endure droughts, more intense and frequent wildfires, and catastrophic sea level rise. One potential avenue for reducing our emissions is for our government to implement a price on carbon emissions– a $35 tax per ton of carbon that major emitting industries release, and gradually rises in price, over time.
Yet, somehow, the IPCC’s latest warning was only a headline for a few days, before, once more, the severity of the situation slipped to the back of our minds. The truth is, we need to acknowledge that climate change is a crisis, and not just in the moment that we read the headline, but in every moment that we make a decision that could impact our future.
To tackle not just climate change itself, but the hordes of other issues that come with it, we have to do two things: governments must behave in a way that reflects the urgency of climate change and, secondly, use this urgency to enact economically viable policy solutions that work to protect the environment and our changing climate.
This tax would force major emitters to be far more conscious of their greenhouse gas emissions, encouraging them to produce less, and eventually transition to ever-cheaper renewable energy systems, which would inherently become more financially viable. In the context of our other laws, the carbon tax just makes sense – for instance, we get fined for littering, and we pay taxes for curbside trash collection, yet major emitters in most states don’t currently pay to pollute our atmosphere, and that must change.
In tandem with the tax, the proposed Climate Community Investment Act (NY senate Bill S7645) would ensure that the general public, who would be subject to businesses increasing service costs to cover the carbon tax, will not be at a loss. The money will be reinvested into the community to ensure that the general public do not feel the impact on their pockets. The end goal is to be able to get rid of the tax as we move towards cleaner, renewable energy.
Let’s set an example for the rest of the nation to follow, and start by electing those into office who will vote for legislation that will ensure a sustainable and economically prosperous future. We need to make a point to elect climate leaders – willing to take action for the sake of our children, our beloved hometowns, and yes, ourselves too. This legislation has already made headway in Washington and California, and I urge residents of Saratoga Springs to support policies and legislators who will work to solve the climate change crisis.