Alex Jorck: Alternatives to Green New Deal in a changing climate

Keywords Opinion / Viewpoint
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viewpoint-jorck-alex.jpgSen. Todd Young has called the Green New Deal unaffordable, unattainable and unrealistic. While the senator raises valid concerns, we can no longer afford to put off taking action on this issue. Climate change increasingly disrupts and threatens our economy, our health and our way of life; we need bold, ambitious policy solutions that are appropriate for the scale of the problem, such as an economy-wide price on carbon.

The excellent research coming out of Purdue University’s Climate Change Research Center shows climate change is reducing our air and water quality, decreasing productivity of agricultural crops such as corn and soybeans, and causing record-breaking heat waves and more flooding. These negative impacts and others will only accelerate through the century, meaning inaction is an irresponsible and costly choice.

Young promotes action in the form of carbon-capture research, nuclear-energy development and energy-efficiency improvement. I support all these ideas as part of an all-of-the-above approach; it seems foolish to take any potential tool out of our toolbox.

However, we need action, and these steps will leave us far short of our carbon-reduction goals.

Luckily, many other proposals are coming out in Congress from both sides of the aisle. One option is House Resolution 763, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2019. It’s based on policies proposed by the bipartisan Citizens’ Climate Lobby and the conservative Climate Leadership Council. This is a revenue-neutral, market-based policy that prices carbon and returns revenue to U.S. households on a monthly basis to offset increased costs.

One of the beautiful things about H.R. 763 is that it encourages the deployment of any resource that is low-carbon: renewables, advanced nuclear, fossil fuels with carbon-capture technology, biofuels, etc. The plan simply lays out the incentive for low-carbon technologies and lets the market (and American ingenuity) decide what technologies fit our needs the best.

The Green New Deal might be unaffordable, but the carbon-dividends approach has been recommended by more than 3,500 economists in the Economists’ Statement on Carbon Dividends. Notably, this includes 27 Nobel Laureate economists, all of the living former chairs of the Federal Reserve, 15 former chairs of the Council of Economic Advisers, two former secretaries of the U.S. Department of Treasury, and 86 Hoosiers from our various prestigious academic institutions. They recognize a carbon price as “the most cost-effective lever to reduce carbon emissions at the scale and speed that is necessary.”

We need climate policies and legislation that are appropriate for the scale of the problem. If the GND is a policy the senator cannot support, I simply ask that he work toward alternative, bipartisan solutions that are appropriate to the scale of the challenge at hand.

We need bold, national legislation that serves Hoosiers’ interests by mitigating the worst effects of climate change and advancing Indiana employment in the fast-growing clean-energy sector.•

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Jorck is operations manager at Bloomington-based Whole Sun Designs Inc.

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