WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — One of the biggest surprises in President Barack Obama’s second inaugural address this week was the prominence given to climate change, marking it as a signature issue for his second term.
The president spoke of the need to preserve the planet for future generations. But he also couched climate change in more immediate economic terms, with leadership on the issue as a necessary component for the U.S. to maintain its economic preeminence.
A carbon tax of $20 per metric ton would generate up to $144 billion a year by 2020, according to Mijin Cha, an analyst at the Demos think tank, who offered suggestions for the president’s agenda in a blog this week. This revenue could be used to reduce the deficit, provide subsidies to families for any resulting increase in energy costs, and to invest in renewable energy or upgrades to the electricity grid.
Cha also urged the administration to redirect government funds currently used to subsidize the fossil-fuel industry to support renewable energy sources instead, and to establish a federal renewable portfolio standard as some 30 states have already done. Read Cha’s blog post