Wesleyan to Host National Conference on Pricing Carbon Emissions

“Pricing Carbon: The Wesleyan Conference” will run Nov. 19-21 on campus.

Wesleyan, in conjunction with the Price Carbon Campaign, an umbrella organization of climate-policy advocates, is convening a conference to discuss and develop new approaches to pricing carbon emissions that are destabilizing Earth’s climate and driving global warming.

“Pricing Carbon: The Wesleyan Conference” will be held Nov. 19-21 at Wesleyan. Headline speakers include climatologist and Columbia University Professor James Hansen, author-activist Bill McKibben, and environmental-justice lawyer and advocate Angela Johnson Meszaros.

“Wesleyan University’s College of the Environment was established in 2009 to help students become better stewards of our fragile Earth,” says Barry Chernoff, director of the College of the Environment and professor of biology. “We welcome this opportunity to co-host a national conference of scholars and advocates intent on re-energizing U.S. climate policy on the eve of the 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancún, Mexico, beginning November 29.”

The conference begins at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 19 in Exley Science Center with a Wesleyan welcome and program preview by Laura Bonham, deputy director of Progressive Democrats of America.  Bill McKibben, author and founder of 350.org will lead the keynote address at 8:30 p.m. An informal networking session will follow.

On Nov. 20, the first plenary panel will speak on “Economic Rationale for Pricing Carbon.” James Hansen, climatologist and author, will deliver a keynote address at 10:20 a.m.

Workshop topics throughout the day include EPA Regulation, Learning from Abroad: Failure of the European Trading System; How British Columbia’s Carbon Tax Works; Moral and Religious Imperative of Pricing CO2 Pollution; Citizen Organizing and Building Political Will; Students for a Just and Stable Future; Can There Be a Radical Middle? Building Republican Support for a Price on Carbon; Offsets, Environmental Justice, and Emissions Trading; Who Gets the Money; Revenue Treatment: Tax Shifting or ‘Green Checks;’ Media and Messaging; Students for a Just and Stable Future.

On Nov. 21, the conference will begin with a plenary panel on “Moving Beyond the Traditional Environmental Movement.

Beside the keynote speakers, the conference will feature Gary Yohe, the Woodhouse/Sysco Professor of Economics, professor of environmental studies, Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA), Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC),  Professor Brent Blackwelder, Professor Elaine C. Kamarck, Cecil Corbin-Mark, Peter Barnes, Michelle Chan, Laurie Williams, Allan Zabel, and a growing assembly of other members of Congress, economists, environmentalists, political scientists, student leaders, and advocates for environmental and social justice.

A listing of confirmed speakers can be found on the conference website. All have real-world experience in the economics and politics of energy and climate, and understand the need to price carbon emissions to combat global warming. Conference co-sponsors include the Carbon Tax Center, Citizens Climate Lobby, Progressive Democrats of America, and Climate Crisis Coalition.

The U.S. has never enacted comprehensive climate legislation, failing most recently this past July. Among the reasons for American inaction being discussed in this mid-term election season are the multiple flaws of the “cap-and-trade” approach backed by many mainstream environmental organizations and major corporations. The conference organizers maintain that the legislation was too complicated, relied on complex and corruptible financial instruments, and was too generous to polluting companies.

“With the continuing failure of the cap/trade/offset mechanism to gain support in Congress, it’s time for climate policy makers and concerned citizens to rethink carbon-pricing options,” said Laura Bonham, deputy director of Progressive Democrats of America. “This conference will allow a broad spectrum of climate activists to seek a common agenda that will define the basic principles of good climate legislation, beginning with putting a clear price on carbon,” she added.

The public in invited to register online, through e-mail at info@kyotoandbeyond.org or by calling 413-243-2556. For more information contact Charles Komanoff at charles@carbontax.org or Barry Chernoff at bchernoff@wesleyan.edu.