RED WING -- The City Council voted Monday to recommend to the congressional delegation that the U.S. Congress should address climate change by supporting carbon pricing.
Carbon pricing is a concept where businesses are charged for putting carbon into the atmosphere. It suggests that corporations are currently able to put carbon into the atmosphere for free. But the continual increase in carbon in the global atmosphere has numerous negative effects, including monetarily.
Anna Johnson with the Policy and Public Affairs Association presented information about carbon pricing on Monday.
“There’s no additional cost to essentially dump carbon dioxide waste into the atmosphere. However, we do know that there are costs that result from the carbon dioxide emissions, since carbon dioxide causes global climate change," she said.
Johnson stated that the cost of carbon dioxide includes the loss of human life; species extinction; an increase in healthcare costs; infrastructure, private property and crop damage due to more frequent and intense weather events; and an increase in cost to cool buildings.
“It’s important to note that these costs are not distributed evenly across the country and world. Frontline communities, the communities that are most vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change, and are disproportionately Black, Indigenous and people of color, both national and globally, they’re impacted the first and are most vulnerable to the most severe negative impacts of climate change,” she said.
There are two main methods to price carbon emissions: carbon taxing and cap-and-trade.
A carbon tax would assign a price to every ton of carbon sent into the atmosphere by a business. The theory is that goods that are created with high carbon emissions would cost more, resulting in a lower demand for those items and thus lower carbon emissions from that business.
Cap-and-trade would create a set number of permits for businesses to emit carbon. Corporations would buy and sell these permits in order to cover their admission levels. Over time, the number of permits would decrease, resulting in fewer and fewer emissions.
The City Council and Johnson stressed that carbon pricing is not the only method that should be used to fight climate change. “It’s really not a silver bullet,” Johnson said.
Evan Brown is the council liaison to the city’s Sustainability Commission. He said on Monday, "My belief is that a price signal in carbon underpins a lot of things in our economy that will drive action. And I cannot see how you can move a lot of the pieces on the table if you don’t also have a carbon price in the mix.”