Climate change mitigation and adaptation begins with a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. The transportation industry is responsible for contributing 38% of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere. That’s more than double the emissions from any other sector. In order to effectively curb the greenhouse gas effect on climate change we need to drastically decrease the amount of pollution released from the transportation sector. This reduction will improve air and water quality, reduce asthma rates, and boost the health of our environment. Pricing carbon is one of the most effective and efficient ways to help accelerate the path from dirty fossil fuels to a renewable energy future. Without leadership from the federal government, states are forced to take this challenge head on. The Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) is made up of 13 jurisdictions; Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia, plus Washington DC. These states are focused on bringing clean and equitable transit to the region.
TCI entails capping carbon emissions on prime suppliers in the region. A prime supplier is any company that is a main supplier to the gas industry in the state. Attaching a price to carbon will finally make polluters pay for the harm they've caused while encouraging big businesses to reduce their carbon emissions and help Connecticut meet its emissions targets of 45% below 2001 levels of GHG emissions by 2030 and 80% below 2001 levels by 2050 to comply with the Connecticut Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) standards. In order for the TCI program to be successful, first Connecticut lawmakers, with help from advocates and scientists, would need to establish a cap or ceiling on transportation carbon dioxide emissions. This cap would equate to a certain amount of allowances for prime suppliers to emit carbon dioxide. These allowances would be auctioned off to the prime suppliers and then the proceeds from that auction would be re-invested into clean transportation options. The cap would decrease every year, thus decreasing the amount of allowances sold and the amount of carbon dioxide polluting our atmosphere.
THE EFFECT ON THE CONSUMER
With the revenue from a carbon cap, states can then invest in renewable and more efficient transit options. Whether that be biking and walking trails, electric vehicle infrastructure, or better public transportation. Each state can invest in what is most important and effective to their constituents, starting with those neighborhoods that are most affected by carbon pollution. A transition to carbon-free transportation needs to be just and equitable.
The auction allowances would allow for $2.7 billion re-invested to clean transportation options by 2030. TCI would create over 23,000 jobs for the state, equating to $2.2 billion in wages and $7 billion in new business sales (Acadia Center).
So what would you be faced with at the gas pump? In truth, the consumer will notice the price at the pump the same as fluctuating gas prices we already see. Extensive modelling by the Acadia Center and Georgetown Climate Center has shown that a carbon price will only affect the price at the pump the same as the fluctuating gas prices we already face. The additional price will be so far up the line that the end consumer will hardly notice it. TCI is the fastest, most effective, and most equitable way to transition to a clean energy economy. TCI will position the northeast as an effective leader in the fight for a healthier climate.