by William C. Thwing
My name is Bill Thwing, I live in Bennington, where I am a member of Bennington Climate Advocates, which is a node of 350.org. I am also a member of the Citizen’s Climate Lobby. We want to thank Governor Scott and the members of the Climate Action Commission for having come here to Southern Vermont to listen to our concerns.
We affirm unequivocally that climate change is very real and that it is going to have profound and lasting effects upon our state, our nation, and, indeed, upon our entire civilization. Six years ago, Vermont experienced the wrath of Tropical Storm Irene. Some of the damage caused by that storm has still not been repaired. That little storm cost Vermont $733 million and cost the nation $15.8 billion. The storms that we have experienced just this fall; Harvey, Irma, Jose, and Maria, are said to be some of the largest storms in recorded history, and it will cost the nation an estimated $300 billion to repair the damage.
It’s not going to get any better. Every year the storms are going to get bigger, more destructive, and the repairs will be more costly until we get serious as a nation and as a state about decisively responding to the threats of climate change.
Looking south at what is happening in Texas and Florida, it is clear Vermont needs to be prepared to deal with the extreme weather events that are surely coming. We need to have a plan and citizen first responders who are knowledgeable, prepared, and equipped to implement the plan when extreme weather events besiege us.
Looking to the north, we see a whole different kind of solution: a preventative solution, an economic solution, a multi-trillion-dollar clean-technology adoptive solution, a clear path to getting rid of the polluting carbon-based fuels that are causing these extreme weather events and a solution that will decisively move us toward total clean energy electrification of our energy grids.
I lived in Canada for many years, both in Alberta and in British Columbia, where I went to school. In 2008, British Columbia took a bold step and enacted a progressive, revenue-neutral, carbon pollution “fee and dividend” or a “tax.”
It has been praised as the most significant carbon tax in the Western Hemisphere and has transformed the economy of British Columbia. As of 2012, it was set at $30 per ton of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions. As of next April, British Columbia will be adding $5 per year to the tax until it reaches $50 per ton in 2021. It has helped to create a clean-technology economic boom in British Columbia. It has reduced carbon emissions dramatically, and through their climate-action tax-credit system has insured that low- and middle-income families benefit from the transition. It has provided an example of what is possible for all of Canada, so that as of 2018, 100 percent of Canada’s provinces will have a revenue-neutral carbon floor price of at least $10 per ton. All things are possible for those who are willing to take bold action in dangerous times.
We urge Governor Scott and the Climate Action Commission to look both north and south: south for evidence of climate change and the extreme weather events that will inevitably accompany it, and north for a viable solution. If a brave little state like Vermont is willing to take the initiative and set the example, we believe that the growing, bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus in the U.S. Congress will be urging the rest of the states to follow suit.
We support and strongly urge Vermont to put a price on carbon pollution, and we thank the governor and the Climate Action Commissioners for listening to the concerns of our citizens.