David Whitehead: How to cut costs for energy, save the planet | TheUnion.com

David Whitehead: How to cut costs for energy, save the planet

How do we cut our costs for energy? How do we slow climate change?

Today we can reduce our utility bills by purchasing newer, more highly efficient appliances and heating systems. We can invest in a home energy supply, such as solar panels or battery systems. We can buy a high mileage vehicle. These investments will reduce our on-going costs, and also slow climate change.

However, the most powerful way to cut our energy costs in the long term is by supporting legislation that invests in renewable energy sources and streamlines the way that energy is delivered to us. You can help with this investment in a future of lower energy costs.

What about the other costs, such as pollution and climate impacts? I acknowledge that not everyone wants the government to spend our tax dollars fighting climate change. Some would want the free market to provide the lowest cost energy.

Nevertheless, while we debate these questions, our government will be forced to spend our tax money on climate change. That is because we continue to have increasing annual expenditures for natural disaster assistance and recovery. We are losing habitable land to flooding. Some of our health-care costs are attributable to air pollution increase.

Paying for increasing costs is unsustainable. More people want some kind of powerful action to stop a warming planet from getting worse and to stop the escalating costs we are paying.

Renewable energy sources produce electricity without fouling the air, and have a smaller footprint. These sources produce cheaper electricity than fossil fuel-produced electricity, which has a much bigger footprint. If you put those two ideas together, the result is better health, a cleaner atmosphere, and less expensive utility bills.

If we could figure out a way to make the transition to electrified power systems happen faster, we would achieve a more sustainable, liveable world more quickly. Therefore, we would need to take a look at carbon pricing.

Carbon pricing represents the most powerful tool we could use to accelerate our transition to renewable energy and electrification. It’s the best way to level off the warming of the planet at 2 degrees Celsius. When you use carbon fee and dividend legislation, 57% or our population would experience a net decrease in the cost of the energy we need to live.

Citizens Climate Lobby works on promoting these ideas at the U.S. capital. Our latest lobbying effort was in November 2020 when volunteers lobbied Congress, holding 375 virtual lobby meetings with congressional offices, 92 of which were attended by the member of Congress. At this writing, three new members of Congress signed on as cosponsors of our bill, The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act. Our success is strong and steady.

A key takeaway from these meetings was that carbon pricing is popular. In 2020 both the House and the Senate issued reports calling carbon pricing essential to reducing our carbon pollution.

Major businesses want carbon pricing implemented, including 21 Fortune 500 companies.

Investment companies have changed their asset allocations to favor renewable energy, and away from fossil fuels. Exxon Mobil was removed from the Dow. The world is changing to a renewable, electric future. Fossil fuels will still serve a purpose, but will have a reduced market share over the next 30 years. We could have a net zero country by 2050.

It is not in our best interest to argue about the existence of climate change, or its causes. It is definitely in our interest to get together to tell our elected officials we want better health while living in a cleaner environment, and lower costs for our energy needs.

We have all the technology and knowledge we need to transform our power production systems and reduce our energy costs. We are creating the political will to convince our elected officials all across our country that we want powerful, family-based solutions.

With the new administration ready to embrace climate change solutions, now is the time to get involved. You can take action to write to your member of Congress. They need our ideas and efforts to accomplish the legislation we want. In this way, ours is truly action by the people, for the people, and for the good of our planet Earth.

David Whitehead is the group leader of the Nevada County Chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby, a non-profit organization which welcomes anyone serious about solving climate change as a volunteer. We build consensus through respectful relationships with others, and focus on encouraging elected officials to support effective action: http://www.citizensclimatelobby.org

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