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Newport Beach residents should support legislation to reduce carbon emissions

Newport Beach residents should support legislation to reduce carbon emissions
Homes on Balboa Island in Newport Beach. (Photo by Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

Nothing captures Southern California culture and lifestyle as much as images engendered by our beachside communities. It’s what has drawn us to settle here.

Living near the beach has also raised our property values, underwriting our wealth and security. So it should be alarming to consider that our communities may be among the biggest losers to climate change, as rising sea levels threaten to wipe out ocean beaches and flood harbor islands.

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Newport Beach recently announced that it is planning for seas to rise as much as 5 feet by 2100. Imagine what that will do to our peninsula beaches or Balboa Island, areas now barely above sea level. Recent climate reports warn that the impacts of climate change are even worse than previously predicted, that we are running out of time to avert a global catastrophe, and that massive action is required to reduce greenhouse gases.

Every day that we deny or ignore the fact that climate change is real and caused by burning coal, oil and gas, yet continue to do nothing about it, condemns us, our children and future generations to a frightening future.

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The only way to stop the sea from rising, of course, is to reduce carbon emissions so that polar ice does not continue to melt, and the ocean does not expand from global warming. There are policy solutions available to Congress for reducing emissions. Most promising are market-based solutions that place a steadily increasing price (tax/fee) on carbon pollution. This makes fossil fuels more expensive, directs business and consumer behavior away from carbon-producing energy, and drives the development and deployment of green alternatives. Revenues could then be returned equally to American families as a monthly dividend, easing the transition to a clean energy economy for low and middle income families.

For years economists have advocated carbon pricing as the single most effective way to reduce emissions. In recent months support for this policy has mushroomed. Major newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, have added their endorsements. Canada announced that it will institute a nationwide carbon fee and dividend program. And recently members of the House sponsored legislation for a national climate policy. The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act would put a price on carbon pollution and give the revenue back to American households.

After years of inaction we now have a bipartisan approach that can lead us forward. This revenue-neutral legislation promises to reduce U.S. emissions at least 40% within 12 years, provides economic justice for low income families by putting money in peoples’ pockets to cope with increased energy costs, adds 2.1 million additional jobs over the next 10 years, and establishes a carbon border adjustment that is fair to U.S. businesses while motivating our trading partners to join us in a truly global solution.

The success of this legislation is vital to coastal communities. If adopted by Congress it could effectively avert the worst of climate change, including limiting sea level rise. We owe future generations the opportunity to enjoy, as we have, the charms of our coastal communities, the pleasures of our ocean beaches. Urge your member of Congress to support this promising bipartisan legislation.

Bob Taylor lives in Newport Beach.

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