81: Political Prep: Carbon Pricing, Net Zero, + The Paris Climate Accord


Hey all welcome back to ECO chic. The podcast contrast about practical science and sustainability might name is Laura Diaz. I am pump for today's episode because we are talking about something timely and relevant and current grant and it's GonNa be really good one today. We're kind of going to be prepping for the next presidential election cycle when it comes to climate change discussions so this is a really early timely conversation again because as political candidates are beginning to bring out their own climate action plans there is a lot of different discussion around carbon and environmental regulations and a lot of different things that have to do with our stance on the environment so today is election day in the US. If you are listening to this on November four worth the day that this episode comes out and that means that in exactly one year we will have the opportunity as Americans to elect a new president so this year is going to be full of campaigns and marketing and buzzwords that are going to be thrown at us and. I think that it's really important that we have some information to help. You make a really informed decision and just really help you parse out some of that information some of that rhetoric around climate change so. I'm not here campaigning. For any candidate in particular in fact. I'm really really looking forward to watching the debates and being involved in this political process. Because I don't know won't vote for yet. But I do know that as an intelligent young person in America Gotcha that a candidate's environmental values and plans are really going to be making a huge part of that defining decision for me so on today's episode. We're going to be talking about out some of those hot button vocab terms so what it means. Put a price on carbon. Why are we concerned with the Paris? Climate accord what are we striving for when we say we're going to a net zero. There's a lot of different overarching ideas that all of the candidates really have in common. But I think that it's important that we understand what we're advocating for and what you're voting voting for because there are plenty of things that we could be focusing on and also plenty of things that could be kind of green washed away to make us believe that a particular topic or particular plan is better than it actually may be in. The long-term for environmental concerns are environmental values. So let's actually start from the back of that list. I I just made. Let's talk about net. Zero emissions net zero emissions is the same thing as saying carbon neutrality every Democratic candidate there has been some mentioned of how we're going to achieve net zero emissions just a little side note. There has not yet been a formal Republican nominee named for the two thousand twenty presidential election. But that's that's not saying that no Republicans can ever have a plan for climate action. I'm just saying every Democratic candidate thus far has discussed carbon neutrality someway so anyway the idea of achieving net zero emissions refers to a time during which we are taking out as much carbon from the atmosphere as we are putting in so a totally equal ooh balance of carbon in carbon. Out some of the ways that we can do this are carbon capture technology Sioux chief this from a completely analytical all politically in different perspective. We basically have to stop using fossil fuels like yesterday. I talked about this a little bit more in depth on episode sixty nine which is called what is the carbon budgets. But I really want you to know that net neutrality carbon neutrality zero emissions of these things are actually the same exact thing and these are all really really necessary goals to stay below critical threshold warming. So that's one point five degrees in order for us to be living safely in the earthly societies sihities. We now know and love. We need to be mitigating. Our carbon output really aggressively. So that's when we start thinking about carbon neutrality. Just not only reducing the amount of carbon urban that we are currently putting into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels by just a regular day to day activities that were already partaking in but actually bring that level of carbon two zero so so now let's talk about carbon pricing. Basically you can put a price on carbon in two ways. You can use one of these techniques a combination of these techniques neither whatever it may be so you have carbon taxes and then you have cap and trade in the US. They are primarily theoretical ideas both carbon taxes and carbon trades. Sometimes that's called carbon credits but neither of these ideas is particularly lofty or impossible. Anyway so I I want to give a little bit of of background that in the US we did start taxing corporations for their output of Sofer dioxide in the nineteen seventies because there was a lot of really terrible health issues associated rated with the acid rain you get when sulfur dioxide is put into the atmosphere. Sober dioxide doesn't travel particularly far. It's a gas a little bit heavier at stays pretty close to the source so it's much more straightforward to figure out where the emissions are coming from when you have sulfur dioxide in the atmosphere so putting a price on. So two pretty quickly. The eliminated are issues of acid rain in the US. So it's nice to think that we could use that same logic for carbon how ever carbon dioxide is is a lighter gas so we can travel farther. It's harder to quantify like just figuring out how much carbon is being. Output is a really difficult thing so so again we have some challenges but the two big ideas here to deal with carbon dioxide that is being emitted by major corporations or taxes and trades the carbon tax is the idea that there is a tax quite literally like any other tax on the carbon content of fuels and just like emissions trading creating just like carbon emissions trading. It's a form of carbon. Pricing Carbon pricing is basically. Just what it sounds like. Putting a price on carbon so a carbon tax would mean a company would be paying attacks on each metric ton of co two committing so for some super simple math. Let's just try to better understand carbon taxing if there is a major corporation that's emitting. Let's say a hundred metric tons of co two. Let's say that the government decided that one metric ton of CO two is price at one hundred dollars players that corporation will be paying ten thousand dollars in taxes. So a hundred dollars per metric ton at one hundred metric tons. You put those together. It's ten thousand dollars. So that is the amount that the company will be paying just for being a polluter. This is a really attractive idea from an economic standpoint from like a more business psychology. Would you standpoint. Because at the end of the day while it's great to encourage people to like stop polluting out of the goodness of their hearts at the end of the day. People care when it costs then money so the idea of carbon tax costing a company. Let's say ten thousand dollars. One hundred thousand dollars just in taxes for being a polluter will really force them to go ahead and say okay. How can we cut some cost here? That's going to be reducing. Our output reducing our emissions so the idea of a carbon tax is really cool from that perspective. There is quite a few candidates. Currently running there are advocating for pricing carbon which is again just enacting carbon tax and giving that back to Americans as a rebate. I'm not necessarily saying that's a good idea or a bad idea. But the idea of rebates in carbon taxes is a strategy for stimulating the economy in those lower and middle income brackets so just another other facet of carbon taxes. That could be a really interesting thing to look out for in this next political cycle. Now let's switch gears for a second talk about cap and trade programs again. Another form of carbon pricing so this is sometimes calls emissions trading. A company is theoretically allotted X.. Amount of credits for emitting co two. So they can't exceed lead the amount of credits that they've been given again. Let's do some like super super simple math. I think it's a lot easier to conceptualize us with numbers if that major corporation again amidst hundred hundred metric tons of co two per whatever time period. Let's say a year but they're only allowed eighty credits. Assuming one metric ton equals one credit there is twenty metric tons of carbon that they are emitting into the atmosphere that they need to figure out how to reduce these are some really good systems because a government cap cap. The amount of total emissions at their society is putting out. If the government's like okay as a whole we only want to put out like this many hundred thousand metric tons of co two every major corporation is getting some slice of that Pie. so that's the cap part of cap and trade. Ideally the cap get stricter over time this society. The as a whole is emitting less and less unless the trade part of cap and trade comes into play when you are a company that has more carbon credits than you actually need and and then you can sell them to other organizations so again. Let's say you omit one hundred metric tons of co two but you have one hundred and twenty credits and then in that scenario you have twenty credits that you can sell to another company. Another major polluter another major corporation so there are pros and cons to this as well again it gives people regulation and some incentive hip to actually sell credits. You know there is some economic gain to be had there but on the flip side. It's really really hard to figure out what the optimal output of Co two is for an entire our society. So it's really hard to say like Oh if every major corporation puts out one hundred metric tons of carbon that we're good to go. What do you do if you have a lot of corporations ends that are producing less emissions than your allotting them credits? That kind of incentivizes them to not take as great precautions or care when it comes comes to their emissions so if I am let's say I'm just some Big Evil Company that has twenty extra credits. I'm like oh I can go ahead and pollute more than I already was. I can loosen my environmental regulations. My policy I can maybe get rid of some. Environmental standards are precautions. That were particularly costly for me. So it's it's a little bit harder to find the sweet spot when it comes to cap and trade as opposed to carbon pricing that kind of just incentivizes everyone to decrease their carbon output as much as as possible so now let's switch gears for a second. Currently in America. Renewable energy is producing more jobs than fossil fuel derived energy sources says so coal jobs and this actually isn't even in America around the world. Renewable energy is putting out more jobs. It has more job opportunities in that space right now than traditional channel coal fossil fuel derived jobs so the rest of the world literally every single other nation is still signed onto the Paris climate accord which is a a set of rigorous regulations helping globe as a whole keep are warming to a minimum and really delay drastic drastic climate change impacts for for as long as possible. I also talk about the Paris climate accord in that carbon budget episode. I mentioned earlier episode sixty nine. If you want more background on that I would highly recommend you go back and listen to that however the US is the only country as of right now that has said anything about getting out of the Paris climate accord and really massively loosening those Environmental Armenta regulations that we've put out. The rest of the world is progressing and creating a new economic landscape that the US is not a part of what does that mean. If we're still still supporting these coal jobs and loosening our environmental policies jobs will go elsewhere. We are going to have an even lesser global influence. And we're going. I want to be left behind. So if there's someone in your life that's supportive of the trump administration's announcement to leave the Paris climate accord. You can definitely bring up this global economic argument and I mean it's great to have clean air and clean water even if you don't acknowledge climate change like should just be things that you want. But at the end of the day the Paris climate accord protects our health breath it attempts to lessen the impacts of natural disasters and. I don't even know if I should call them natural disasters because our actions are really the root cause of a lot of things like major fires. There's snow storms hurricanes. But that's a whole other conversation to be having at the end of the day. It's really about empowering ourselves and knowing what we're talking about when we're advocating for particular policies and particular legislation. I do want to acknowledge that in this episode I have not talked about the green new deal and at the end the day. I think that there's a lot of other conversations that we need to have before we can really figure out if the green new deal is something that we want to go along with or not there are a lot of more humanitarian issues that are associated with the green new deal. There's a lot of things that we can tie climate change like economic inequality. Feminism things like that and there's just Salata conversations that we need to have around the green deal. I feel like that should really be. Its own episode with an expert because again like I'm not a politician. I just really get riled up when it comes to climate policy. I'm I'm just really interested in it at. It's something that I really care about. So if there's something that you are itching to learn more about please reach out to me. If you find any really cool policies online I would off to read about them but I hope that this episode gave you some perspective and just some better insight on what it is that these politicians are really advocating for and pushing for and what this really is going to look for our future. Not only as a country not only as a society but just for the globe. We're talking about the economy. It's twenty nine thousand nine. It's almost it's twenty twenty. We do not live in a world where countries operate on their own where everything happens in a vacuum and everyone is like every man for himself. The Internet exists global economies exist exist. We are talking about trading around the world we are all really really really connected whether we acknowledge it or not and the environment is the same way so just because one person wants to shootout environmental regulations and one person wants to loosen them. That doesn't mean that they don't cross over at all there's going to be impacts whether we like it or not. We all have our differences but at the end of the day. We've only got one planet. It's time to wake up and I hope that this gives you a little bit of food for thought so I encourage you to go ahead and watch the democratic debates as they start up again. I'm really excited to watch them. I think there are a lot of fun. Invite your friends over. Have a drink. It's just a good time and it's also just cool to be politically aware so well. Well I'm not saying like you have to go out campaign for anyone or be like extremely involved in the political process at the end of the day. It's just about awareness. It's about figuring out what you care about. And figuring out what policies really aligned with your values so that is it for today's episode. Thanks for listening. I hope you feel a little bit more informed. Don't forget to follow us on instagram. At Eco Chic podcast. There is a huge huge really exciting announcement coming out really really really soon and I am really really present on that particular instagram page. If you WANNA follow me my personal pages outlawry. I'm both are always in the show notes. I would love to get your feedback and get your thoughts and just get to know you a little bit better so social media really way to do that. I hope you have an awesome. Damn we'll talk talk to you soon bye.

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