Will the United States meet its emissions reduction goals as outlined in the Paris Agreement? Unlikely, says recent grad Tom Erb ’18. Without a strong, federal price on carbon—a long shot under the current administration—the U.S. will surely fail.
Erb is no newcomer to the campaign for carbon pricing. At Pomona, Erb has been a tireless climate change activist, mobilizing young people around the country to act now. For the past two years, Erb has been an organizer with the Put A Price On It campaign, a collaboration with the Years of Living Dangerously television series to mobilize grassroots support for a national price on climate pollution.
“After the reversal on climate action by the U.S. government, American states and foreign countries are continuing the push for climate policies,” he says. “Right now, you have a lot of states trying to get a head start trying to pass carbon taxes: Oregon, Washington, New York, Massachusetts and jurisdiction of Washington, D.C. Those are five or six places that could pass a carbon tax in the next two years,” says Erb.
Erb predicts that in the next five to 10 years more states will adopt policies that include expanding renewable portfolio standards, investments into electric vehicles, tax credits for carbon capture technology and moratoriums on gas and oil extraction. While these policies are not as effective as carbon pricing, Erb argues, they are likely, in the short run, to gain political support.
“But to make a real impact you’re going to need a national carbon tax and we need carbon pricing around the world.”