Clean energy transition would break Russia’s geopolitical grip

For years, our planet has shown us the need to move away from fossil fuels. Extreme weather events, driven by excessive greenhouse gas emissions, are becoming more frequent and costly. But today, even our geopolitical and economic realities demand the same.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was quickly condemned by world leaders and President Biden announced a series of sanctions aimed at cutting Russia off from global economic activity. But Biden first stopped before direct sanctions on Russia’s main export: fossil fuels.

“Russia is incredibly insignificant in the global economy, except for oil and gas,” said a Harvard economist. Ideally, America and our allies would hit them where it really hurts — and indeed, after a few weeks of contention, bipartisan outcry in Congress prompted President Biden to ban Russian fossil fuel imports. It is heartening to see our leaders increasingly willing to say no to the dirty fuels of an oil state.

But of course, the limited supply of oil and gas is expected to push prices up, adding financial stress at a time when people are already struggling with inflation. It is clear that we need abundant and affordable energy, but what kind?

The American Petroleum Institute renewed its calls for American energy independence through increased domestic oil and gas production. It is a false solution. The United States is already a net exporter of energy. Nevertheless, the actions of other major players. like Russia and Saudi Arabia, affect or energy prices. The “solution” of additional fossil fuels would simply be a trade – an attempt to solve one major problem while exacerbating others: climate change and price volatility.

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A transition, as quickly as possible, to abundant clean energy would make domestic energy prices more stable and affordable, eliminate fossil fuel price volatility, and eliminate additional greenhouse gas emissions.

The clean energy transition would bring more geopolitical, economic and climatic stability. The EU is already taking steps in this direction, spurred by the Russian attack. It is time for the United States to deploy the most effective and expeditious policies to do the same.

A well-designed carbon price – which the US Senate is already seriously discussing – would meet all the needs here. First, imposing an ever-increasing price on carbon would accelerate the transition to cleaner energy options across the economy, from larger industries to individual consumer choices.

Second, carbon price revenues can be allocated to Americans in the form of a regular dividend or “carbon cashback,” protecting Americans from higher costs and fighting inflation.

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Third, a carbon border adjustment can be used to impose international pressure, which would break the grip of oil states like Russia. The EU is already considering implementing a tariff like this, and Republicans in Congress are voicing support for a similar idea.

At the height of the Build Back Better negotiations last fall, this idea was prevalent. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has called on the Finance Committee to develop carbon pricing legislation. Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden said: “I’ve had a carbon pricing bill sitting in my desk for the past three years, just biding its time. Republican Senator Mitt Romney – who, it should be noted, identified Russia as a threat in 2012 – said in January: “If you’re serious about climate, put a price on carbon.

The next time you adjust the thermostat, you'll know you're using 100% clean energy.

It is time for our elected officials to return to these policy discussions with renewed commitment. We can no longer wait for the transition to clean energy, and we largely agree on the policy that can get us there. Our climate, our energy prices and the stability of our world are at stake.

A clean, stable and secure future is within our reach. The United States already has all the technology and business savvy to do just that. The way forward will include emissions pricing, appropriate standards and complementary public policy to protect the vulnerable. The main challenge now is to create the political will for a livable world. Join us in the Holland Area chapter of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby as we work towards this goal. Go to citizenclimatelobby.org and click on the green “Join CCL” button.

— Madeleine Para is the executive director of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby.