On behalf of all Jackson residents concerned about climate change, we are celebrating Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba today. He recently attended the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Honolulu, Hawaii, where he cast a supporting vote for carbon pricing.
“Be it resolved that the United States Conference of Mayors strongly urges the United States Congress to pass legislation that imposes a price on carbon emissions,” the resolution stated. A price on carbon would offer our city and our country a wide range of benefits, which the mayors’ resolution pointed out. A carbon price will “promote energy efficiency and accelerate clean energy investments.” It will “spur innovation and reduce reliance on foreign energy sources.” Last but not least, it will “encourage and empower households and businesses to invest in conservation and domestic carbon-free energy sources.”
Not only would a price on carbon bring those positive changes to our Jackson community, but it would also help prevent communities across Mississippi and across the country from future harm. Mayors are already on the front lines in dealing with climate change. From historic droughts to record-breaking floods, people in their cities want answers and action. Right here in Jackson, we’ve seen intensified flash floods and prolonged, extreme heat. The rest of the state suffers major agricultural losses from interchangeable floods and droughts in the Delta and costly damages to our seafood industry from sea water intrusion on the coast. Even regular Mississippians suffer from changes, such as the closing of all mainland beaches during the July 4th weekend from a toxic algae bloom. That’s why I am thrilled to see Mayor Lumumba joining mayors across the country to advance a climate solution. If the U.S. Congress puts a price on carbon pollution as the Conference of Mayors recommends, our emissions will go down, our air will be cleaner and our climate will begin to stabilize.
This vote from Mayor Lumumba is especially meaningful because there is a bipartisan carbon pricing bill under consideration at the national level right now. In Congress, more than 50 representatives, including our own Rep. Bennie Thompson, are co-sponsoring legislation called the Energy Innovation Act (H.R. 763), which would put a price on carbon and give every American a monthly dividend check.
This is the policy actively supported by Sen. Trent Lott. H.R. 763 will reduce carbon emissions while protecting people financially, while America transitions to a clean energy economy. After this strong endorsement from Mayor Lumumba and initiative from Rep. Thompson, I hope that Rep. Michael Guest and Senators Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith will take a close look at this legislation in Congress and consider supporting it.
Their support would be welcome from people on both sides of the aisle. A recent poll from Luntz Global showed that 75 percent of Republicans under 40 support putting a price on carbon. Economists who have served under Republican and Democratic administrations alike agree that a carbon price is both an efficient and effective approach.
Even if we don’t agree on everything, more and more of us agree that climate change is not a political issue but a serious problem that needs to be addressed.
Thankfully, this agreement is emerging among our elected officials, too. The Energy Innovation Act has bipartisan sponsorship in Congress. For the mayors’ carbon pricing resolution, Republicans were among those mayors who sponsored it, passed it through committee, and voted for it.
The non-partisan Conference of Mayors has set a wonderful example for all elected officials by working together across party lines to protect our children and Mississippi. Climate change is simply too big a problem to let partisanship get in the way.
We are deeply grateful to both Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba and Rep. Bennie Thompson for taking this important initiative, and we are hopeful that their leadership will move our city and our country forward.
Dominika Parry is a Yale PhD environmental economist and Jackson chapter leader/state coordinator for the Citizens Climate Lobby (http://citizensclimatelobby.org).