Climate Change Requires Policy Change - Honolulu Civil Beat

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About the Author

Sara Bower

Sara Bower is a senior at the University of Hawaii Manoa studying global environmental science who also advocates for climate action with Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

Climate change is the result of a structural problem in society. Polluters are not paying for the true cost fossil fuels have on people and the environment.

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To truly combat our climate emergency, policy changes need to be made so fossil fuel companies no longer get off scot-free.

Brittany Lyte wrote in her article, “Asking For A Miracle’: Hawaii Evaluates Global Roadmap To Avoid Climate Catastrophe,” that people aren’t waiting for the government to lead on climate change action.

This is true — inspiring entrepreneurs have led innovations in renewable technology, and individuals and nonprofits have led wonderful campaigns to plant thousands of trees. However, the only way that we as a people can mitigate the worst effects of climate change requires structural change.

I am graduating from UH Manoa this spring with a B.S. in global environmental science. I have learned from my years of study that the work required to combat climate change cannot be accomplished on an individual scale.

Homeowners try to protect their homes on the north shore of Oahu with sandbags and tarps. Nathan Eagle/Civil Beat/2019

Of course, you should recycle, compost, use a reusable water bottle, etc., but climate change is the result of decades of burning fossil fuels and even giving those who promote fossil fuels subsidies. The impact that greenhouse gases have on the environment requires new legislation and policies so that it is absolutely necessary to price in negative externalities or the unaccounted-for negative effects like carbon emissions.

While the fault of climate change is not on individuals, we need to work together to get congressional action. If we don’t, our health, our kids and the islands will suffer the consequences of climate change.

Pricing Carbon

Our islands have already felt the consequences of sea-level rise and have seen damage to infrastructure and coastal real estate. The warming of waters will only bring more coral bleaching and declines in fish stocks. Climate inaction will have devastating effects.

As citizens, one of the best things we can do is to contact our representatives in Congress so that they know what we want. We can influence change with our voices and put pressure on our politicians to do what is right for both people and the aina.

A carbon fee and dividend is one of the most effective climate policies — it creates a strong incentive to reduce fossil fuel consumption while caring for low-moderate income households. Here in Hawaii, both the economy and the people could greatly benefit from taxing carbon and returning the money to people in dividends.

By pricing carbon, we would bring a quicker transition to clean energy, and abate carbon emissions faster. Returning the money in dividends makes the policy progressive.

According to a UHERO study, a carbon fee and dividend can benefit low-to-moderate income households. UHERO also concluded that with a carbon tax Hawaii could drop emissions to 40% below 2019 levels.

Unfortunately, Carbon Cashback House Bill 2278, a climate bill that would have introduced a carbon fee and dividend policy in Hawaii, did not receive a hearing in the Senate after passing out of the House.

Climate inaction will have devastating effects.

The climate crisis is a problem and one that needs changes within our systems of governance to address it. However, if we want our politicians to act, they need to hear from us. You can be the difference.

If you want to help combat climate change, call your members of Congress. Just grab your phone and dial one of the numbers below.

Tell them (the staffers who pick up) who you are and tell them that you are concerned about climate change and want them to implement more climate change policies like a carbon fee and dividend.

If you don’t want to speak to anyone, call in the evening and leave a message.

  • Senators: Brian Schatz (808) 523-2061; Mazie Hirono (808) 522-8970
  • Representatives: Ed Case (808) 650-6688; Kai Kahele:(808) 746-6220

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About the Author

Sara Bower

Sara Bower is a senior at the University of Hawaii Manoa studying global environmental science who also advocates for climate action with Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

Latest Comments (0)

Sara Bower is 100% correct. Our politicians need and they have asked us for our input about climate change remedies we want for them to take on our behalf. I have heard them say this during lobby meetings with them. Our letters and/or calls help them to communicate our wishes to Congress. We are the people; let's make sure Congress knows we are present and asking for policy changes that can control the causes of climate change and global devastation.I can vouch for calling anytime day or night, week or weekend, as I've done exactly so. Just as our letters can reach and influence our Senators and Representatives, so do our calls. It means a lot to them to hear from us ... the more of us the better for them to influence Congress.Senators: Brian Schatz (808) 523-2061; Mazie Hirono (808) 522-8970Representatives: Ed Case (808) 650-6688; Kai Kahele:(808) 746-6220

SustainableForest22 · 1 year ago

Mahalo Sara for practicing what you're preaching by using your voice to push for change. We must speak up and put pressure on our legislators both in Hawaii and DC to enact policies that will address our greenhouse gas emissions. Also, you're right to call out carbon pricing as a necessary policy, for it will: (1) incentivize the technologies others have mentioned; (2) incentivize businesses to produce products in a less energy intensive way and products that use less fossil energy; (3) and incentivize us to use less energy in our daily lives.

Zero_Carbon · 1 year ago

When I was in my 20s, my feelings about global warming were the same as the author's. Over time, crucially important aspects of my understanding of the problem evolved considerably:1) The "villain" is not the fossil fuel companies - it's us, it's the lifestyle that humans around the world expect, demand, and strive for.2) The benefits and conveniences of the modern civilization cannot exist without sources of energy that are plentiful and cheap.3) The "clean energy" technologies that we tend to focus on today are neither cheap nor plentiful, and are suitable only for rich "postindustrial" countries with suitably mild climates (temperate to tropical). While it is possible, at a great cost and on a scale of 50-100 years, to transition up to 50% of U.S.' and Europe's primary energy consumption to solar and wind, on the global scale going above 15% would be virtually impossible.4) The only two primary energy technologies that are physically capable of meeting the world's current and projected energy needs are fusion and closed-cycle nuclear. Tell your politicians that without massive R&D investment into these technologies the battle against global warming cannot be won.

Chiquita · 1 year ago

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