Pricing Carbon Emissions Discussed at Carbon Conference

Wesleyan, in conjunction with the Price Carbon Campaign, an umbrella organization of climate-policy advocates, hosted “Pricing Carbon: The Wesleyan Conference” Nov. 19-21 at Wesleyan. Participants at the conference discussed and developed new approaches to pricing carbon emissions that are destabilizing Earth’s climate and driving global warming.

Barry Chernoff, the Robert Schumann Professor of Environmental Studies, professor of biology, professor and chair of the Environmental Studies Program, director of the College of the Environment, helped organize the event. More than 500 guests from around the country attended. “Climate change is due to anthropogenic emissions and alteration of the surface of the planet. This is the issue of our talk. It’s more than an economic issue, it’s a moral issue. A test that we cannot fail. Because the nature of the planet, the configuration of our societies, and the cultures and the nature of human kind will depend upon the choices that we make in the next few coming years,” Chernoff said. “We must find the solutions within ourselves, our families, our communities and within our nations. And we must find a way to reduce the greenhouse gases in our atmosphere and lower the trajectory of the warming of our planet.”

Democratic Caucus Chair Rep. John B. Larson (D-CT) of Hartford spoke during the conference’s welcoming Nov. 19. “I think we have to turn this around and talk about patriotism. Is it patriotic to make sure all humans, all of humanity, our children and future generations have clean air to breathe? Is it patriotic? Certainly it is,” Larson said.

James Handley, senior policy analyst for the Carbon Tax Center, said, “There’s a pretty strong consensus that if we don’t address CO2 and we don’t address it with a price mechanism, if we don’t get to the point where green energy is cost competitive with the alternatives, we’re just not going to make the shift (to clean energy).” Handley also participated in a workshop titled “Who Gets the Money? Revenue Treatment: Tax Shifting or ‘Green Checks.’

From left, Dan Lashof, director of the Climate Center for the Natural Resources Defense Council; Peter Barnes, originator of Sky Trust; “Cap-and-Dividend” advocate; and Charles Komanoff, director of the Carbon Tax Center, lead a plenary panel debate titled “How Best to Price Carbon.”

Suzanne O’Connell, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, associate professor of environmental studies, and director of the Service Learning Center, suggested fellow conference participants think about the importance of water. “You can live without your car, you can live without your television, but you cannot live without water. Water is … a resource we are very seriously depleting,” she said. (Photos by Emily Brackman '11)

Additional information on the conference can be found on the Price Carbon Campaign web site.