Vladmir Putin may be saving us from global warming | Opinion – PennLive
By Sylvia Neely
As the COVID pandemic begins to ease, the world economy has revived. That, along with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, has led to a sharp increase in the price of oil. The price of a barrel of oil on the international market at the end of 2019 (before the pandemic) was $68. After a steep decline in 2020, it is now over $100.
The result has been an increase in the price of gasoline and the price of natural gas, as demand from users looking for alternatives drives up the prices of other fuels.
Searching for villains to blame is a fruitless exercise. Petroleum is an international commodity, produced around the world and coveted by all nations. The United States has become the largest producer of petroleum, but our country does not have a monopoly, nor can we set the prices. Volatility in oil prices hurts businesses and consumers who must struggle to adjust to constantly changing markets.
Fortunately, we have a solution: renewable energy. Electricity produced by wind and solar are domestic sources of energy that are not traded on an international market and they are cheaper than fossil fuels. They can provide us with clean, abundant energy at a low cost and with less volatility.
The quickest and fairest way to switch to non-fossil fuels is to enact legislation to put a steadily rising fee on the carbon content of fossil fuels as they are produced or imported. The price mechanism will give business, industry, and electric power producers a clear signal that they should plan for future investments in processes that rely on renewable energy. Because the fee starts low and rises predictably year by year, it will not have the destabilizing effect that the current see-saw of oil prices has on our economy.
At first, because many processes will still be dependent on fossil fuels, the cost of some goods will rise as the fee takes effect. But the good news is that consumers can be protected from those temporary price rises by cashbacks that will offset the increases.
The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, which would institute the policy described here, now has the support of 95 co-sponsors in Congress. It is estimated that in the tenth year of implementation an average household of two adults and two children would receive $2,974. 95% of low and middle-income American families would come out even or ahead in this scheme. The price of a barrel of oil is now over $100, but we have not gotten any checks to help us deal with that increase. The Act will give you that.
Europeans (who have been relying on Russian natural gas) are taking steps to wean their countries off of their dependence on fossil fuels and have put in place a price on carbon. The United States should do so as well to make sure we are not left behind as this new economy develops. A commentator in the Boston Globe writes that “President Vladimir Putin of Russia . . . has taken action that will maximize the world’s transition to clean, renewable energy. Indeed, he may be single-handedly saving us from global warming.”
Let’s envision a future in which a spike in the price of gasoline at the pump will not cause panic because we will be driving electric cars powered by electricity from wind and solar. We can look forward to a future of clean and affordable energy if we start making that transition now. Our elected representatives hesitate to act, fearing that not enough people support such a bold, fair, and transformative policy.
You can use this website https://citizensclimatelobby.org/get-loud-take-action/ to email the White House and call or write your representatives to tell them that you do indeed support putting a price on carbon, now more than ever.
Sylvia Neely is volunteer co-leader of the State College chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby.