Let’s kick emissions while they’re down, then.

COVID-19, though unequivocally terrible, has shown us that things don’t have to be the way that they are. With the proper motivation, individuals and businesses can change. We shouldn’t need a pandemic to scare us into reducing our emissions as a side effect, and we also don’t need to lock everyone in their houses to stop climate change. In fact, we can put a fee on carbon emissions, then give the money directly back to people as a carbon dividend, which will help boost the economy while gracefully but swiftly shifting economic activity away from emissions-intensive activity.

We can get emissions down by about 37% by 2030, if we start now. This concept of putting a fee on carbon emissions and giving the money back to people directly is called carbon fee and dividend, and economists say that this is the most powerful thing we can do to get emissions under control. There’s already a bill for it in Congress, and we just need to ask our elected officials to support it.

If you want to do the single most impactful thing that you as an individual can do to curb emissions right now, start here.

The idea that we can’t change our behavior to deal with climate change is clearly false. We just need to do it in a controlled and gradual manner, with the right economic incentives, and with making sure that individuals and businesses that can’t readily adapt aren’t left behind when we do it. A fee on carbon supplies those incentives, and carbon dividends given directly back to people provides both cushioning for those who can’t adapt as easily, and investment in low-carbon economic activity everywhere else.

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