Faith leaders urge morally just carbon pricing to curb climate change

Published 10:35 am Monday, September 27, 2021

As people of faith, we have a responsibility to care for God’s creation and preserve our abundant natural world. We recognize the dangers of the changing climate and the urgent need for bold and effective national climate policies. At stake is human health, the continued flourishing of life, and the prevention of widespread suffering. We therefore call on Congress to take steps, without delay, to phase out carbon pollution, the leading cause of the climate crisis. This is a moral imperative.

While we recognize that an array of strategies will be needed, we advocate “pricing carbon” as a primary tool, using a carbon pollution fee. Pricing carbon provides a good foundation and complements other climate strategies. It effectively uses the power of the free market to steer us towards efficiency, clean energy and green manufacturing practices, all while creating jobs. Turning towards safer alternatives will happen when a carbon pollution fee is embedded in the price of polluting fossil fuels. Each step of the way, companies and individuals will naturally seek out less costly alternatives.

Pricing carbon is a morally just strategy. Currently, prices fail to reflect carbon pollution’s negative effect on the health and well-being of people, and the environment. Businesses profit by paying only a fraction of the costs involved. In contrast, as a carbon price on polluting fuels takes effect, energy, manufacturing, transportation, investing, and innovation all will transition towards a clean energy economy.

Importantly, if the United States joins the over 40  countries with a price on carbon, we would be in a position of leadership to help phase out carbon pollution globally. Many countries that already price carbon will be adjusting their tariffs to collect the carbon fee on imports when the country of origin does not have an equivalent carbon price. A wonderful feature of a carbon pollution fee is that it makes “border tariff adjustments” possible, thereby motivating reduction of carbon emissions worldwide.

We support a carbon pollution fee that includes giving much of the revenue to the public. This “carbon fee and dividend” strategy will make clean energy affordable, help our economy, and ensure that families, especially the most vulnerable, will be financially protected during the transition.

As stewards of God’s creation, we bear a moral and spiritual responsibility to prevent a worsening climate crisis. We ask our members of Congress to act decisively: Enact a carbon pricing policy — a fair, powerful, and effective tool to avert climate change’s most catastrophic consequences. We are compelled to protect and care for humankind and all of God’s creation. Let us join together to protect this beautiful, life-supporting world, for our children and all future generations.

Christine Missik and Manolo Matos

Co-leader, Central & Western KY Citizens’ Climate Lobby

The names and titles of all of those endorsing this letter may be seen online at https://bit.ly/2VQXuDk