Opinion

Loyola, It’s Time to Put a (Carbon) Price on our Future

Photo courtesy of Gerald Simmons

In his 2015 encyclical, “Laudato si’,” Pope Francis writes, “Climate change represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.”

He goes on to explain how the world’s poorest and most vulnerable citizens are impacted most negatively by the changing climate.

To combat this man-made injustice, he writes that ordinary people must pressure leaders into action.

Pope Francis’ encyclical aligns perfectly with the Jesuit tenant of homonis pro aliis, which means people caring for others in Latin.

As the Pope clearly states, climate change is a human rights issue, not just a scientific or political problem. It’s affecting and will continue to affect all people; therefore, Pope Francis calls upon all people to act.

Logically, the question arises as to how, specifically, can human actions change to mitigate climate change. One promising method is putting a price on carbon extraction.

Carbon dioxide is the most significant greenhouse gas present in the atmosphere.

By charging for the extraction of minerals that release carbon into the atmosphere, an incentive is created to reduce carbon emissions, thus mitigating the effects of climate change.

Countries across the globe have enacted carbon pricing strategies. In fact, according to the World Bank, only three out of the ten largest economies in the world do not have a price on
carbon.

The United States is one of those countries.

The United Kingdom, France, Tokyo and other nations and municipalities that price carbon have experienced reduced emissions, more renewable energy growth and the phasing out of carbon-emitting energy sources.

Carbon pricing is essentially placing a fee on the initial point that carbon enters the economy.

Although there are many ways to implement carbon pricing, one specific proposal is carbon fee and dividend.

Under this proposal, the price of carbon increases annually to further reduce the use of carbon-releasing energy sources.

This fee will then be distributed back to every American household in the form of a monthly dividend. This is done to repay the consumer for the increase in prices of fossil fuels.

Because not every household releases the exact same amount of carbon, those who purchase less fossil fuels will receive a larger monthly rebate.

Those who purchase more will receive a rebate that will not cover the increase in cost. Therefore, those people will seek to lessen their fossil fuel use to save money.

Organizations across the globe realize that carbon pricing is a viable strategy.

Groups like The World Bank and the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have endorsed climate pricing to accurately account for the external costs of emissions.

The Brookings Institute, a renowned and independent think-tank, stated that an effective carbon pricing strategy can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by “gradually shift[ing] consumer demand, production methods, new investment and technology development toward less emissions-intensive goods and services without unduly burdening poor households.”

Additionally, Scott Nystrom from Regional Economic Models Inc., a private firm that specializes in public policy, projects that a carbon tax would create 2.1 million more jobs, prevent 13,000 premature deaths due to pollution and reduce carbon emissions by 33 percent in the United Nations by 2025.

Cities like Philadelphia, San Francisco, Portland and Salt Lake City all support carbon pricing.

Even in Congress, there is the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus in the House of Representatives that is exploring policies to address climate change.

In just one year, 18 Republicans and 18 Democrats have come together to create this Caucus.

Outside of government, universities like U.C. Berkeley, Pomona College, Wesleyan University and Portland State have all taken a stance in favor of carbon pricing.

As explained above, the values that Loyola has built itself upon clearly indicate that something must be done about the climate.

In Loyola’s Plan 2020, the university has committed itself to exploring how Loyola can become an example to the rest of the world and work toward “a more just, humane, and sustainable world.”

University President Jo Ann Rooney has the opportunity to sign on to the “Higher Education Carbon Pricing Endorsement Initiative” to signal that Loyola University Chicago supports carbon pricing.

Loyola students must choose their future. Make your voice heard and persuade President Rooney to support carbon pricing by signing the Student Environmental Alliance’s online petition “Ask Loyola to Lead on Carbon Pricing.”

With the March for Science on April 22 and the People’s Climate March on April 29, people are building grassroots and nationwide pressure on our leaders to combat climate change.

Carbon pricing is a logical solution that can rise above the partisan politics currently hindering meaningful change.

It’s time to act, and Loyola can play an instrumental part. Sign the petition if you agree.

Opinion Editor

Opinion Editor