The undersigned mayors support and will work for a carbon pollution fee that meets the following key principles:
Equitable: A Carbon Pollution Fee should be revenue neutral, and return all revenues back to residents through a rebate system that is progressive and protects low- and moderate-income households.
Effective: A Carbon Pollution Fee should reflect the actual economic cost of carbon pollution, and should be adjusted regularly based on science and data to meet the pollution reduction goals of states and the region.
Pro-Economic Growth: A revenue-neutral Carbon Pollution Fee should be phased in incrementally to offer predictability and give a clear signal that can boost clean energy investment. Early adopter states should work vigorously to bring neighboring states into this effort to mitigate any adverse impacts on border town businesses. By acting now, states will be positioned to benefit from the Climate Economy.
The need to reduce our carbon pollution and greenhouse gas emissions is clear, and it is urgent. Recent reports, including the United Nations IPCC report and the new National Climate Assessment, have demonstrated that we have a limited window of time to cut carbon pollution. Meanwhile, every day, we face reminders of an increasingly unstable world in the age of a changing climate. From heat waves and record wildfires, to changes in the oceans impacting our fishing industries, to rising sea levels and damaging flooding events, our nation already is grappling with the impacts of climate change.
Here in the Northeast, we feel these impacts acutely and face serious consequences from lack of effective action. Our Northeastern communities are likely to see some of the greatest increases in heat-related deaths as temperatures continue to rise, according to research cited in the National Climate Assessment. By 2035, temperatures are projected to be 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit warmer on average than preindustrial levels in the Northeast, the largest increase in the contiguous United States.
As Mayors, we see these impacts directly. We see how our cities are at risk from flooding events that are more severe or more frequent. We see how, in many cases, the impacts of climate change are going to disproportionately impact the most vulnerable members of our communities, including children, the elderly, and those with chronic illnesses. We see, too, the economic price of inaction. If we do not act, the U.S. economy could lose hundreds of billions of dollars – including direct damage equivalent to 10 percent of our GDP – by the end of this century, according to the National Climate Assessment. This damage comes from crops lost, infrastructure damaged, and real estate threatened; This damage comes from storms that surge higher and wildfires that burn more widely; This damage comes from power system failures and heat-related deaths.
Mayors understand that we cannot wait. We have a unique opportunity to press for climate solutions, and we must lead. We have seen how local and state leadership can create real change, as it did with the Renewable Portfolio Standards, through which the majority of states now require utilities to increase the supply of renewable energy to customers. That work has driven the adoption of solar and wind across the nation, and at the same time created significant clean energy job growth.
Now, we are coming together to call on our state legislatures to enter a multi-state agreement to put a price on carbon pollution. Research and example have shown us that through a fee, we can begin to decrease our carbon pollution and mitigate the damage to our communities from climate change, and do so in a way that is transparent, equitable, supportive of our local economies, and above all, effective.