Commonwealth Magazine: We Need to Put a Price on Carbon

Pollution pricing will reduce emissions, boost economy

James K Boyce   Raymond S Bradley   May 18, 2018

AS THE STORMS LAST FALL AND WINTER have shown, the impact of extreme weather events on our way of life in the Commonwealth is already painfully visible. Global warming is very likely to increase the frequency and severity of such extremes in the years ahead unless we act energetically to shift from fossil fuels to viable energy alternatives. While it’s the extreme events that capture the imagination, the continued use of fossil fuels has numerous other impacts, ranging from loss of farmlands and increased droughts to high rates of asthma and the massive costs to preserve coastal cities; the list goes on. We need to significantly accelerate our pace in shifting from fossil fuels to clean energy.

We are writing to offer our strong support to pending legislation at the State House that puts a price on carbon pollution. We have come to this conclusion as a result of our life’s work. One of us (Bradley) is director of the UMass Amherst Climate System Research Center and the other (Boyce) is a UMass professor of economics who has worked extensively on policies for the pricing of carbon.

In a recent study for the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs (in response to Gov. Charlie Baker’s executive order 569 “Establishing an Integrated Climate Change Strategy for the Commonwealth ”), the Northeast Climate Science Center at UMass assessed the likely impact of future changes in climate on the state. The serious consequences revealed in this study – social and environmental as well as economic – – reinforce our belief that we must act decisively to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Several bills introduced this session include provisions to implement carbon pollution pricing. Briefly, the bills would give Massachusetts residents, businesses, and other institutions an incentive to reduce emissions in a cost-effective manner, and would drive innovation in clean technology and energy efficiency. They also would lead to an increase in jobs. In short, they would accelerate the urgently needed shift from fossil fuels to cleaner sources of energy while being fair to citizens, organizations, and the Commonwealth as a whole.

In a recent study for the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs (in response to Gov. Charlie Baker’s executive order 569 “Establishing an Integrated Climate Change Strategy for the Commonwealth ”), the Northeast Climate Science Center at UMass assessed the likely impact of future changes in climate on the state. The serious consequences revealed in this study – social and environmental as well as economic – – reinforce our belief that we must act decisively to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Several bills introduced this session include provisions to implement carbon pollution pricing. Briefly, the bills would give Massachusetts residents, businesses, and other institutions an incentive to reduce emissions in a cost-effective manner, and would drive innovation in clean technology and energy efficiency. They also would lead to an increase in jobs. In short, they would accelerate the urgently needed shift from fossil fuels to cleaner sources of energy while being fair to citizens, organizations, and the Commonwealth as a whole.

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