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Carbon fee is our climate ‘moon shot,’ and it’s well within reach

Thank you for publishing “Houston should inspire us to shoot for the moon” by John K. Bullard, regional administrator of NOAA Fisheries (Opinion, Sept. 8).

From time to time, many people have called for an environmental “moon shot” to address worsening climate change. This analogy is flawed. Sending humans to the moon and returning them safely to earth is an isolated event, involving thousands of National Aeronautics and Space Administration workers operating largely independently of the rest of the economy. Addressing climate change, on the other hand, involves everyone, and every facet of our economy, transforming to be carbon neutral.


Fortunately, unlike the Apollo mission, we already have the technologies needed to achieve the reductions we need in greenhouse gas emissions. What’s lacking is funding to deploy these technologies at scale. We know, however, that when prices for fossil fuels rise, investments in clean energy increase. A steadily rising fee on coal, oil, and natural gas would guarantee fossil fuel price increases, setting off a virtuous cycle of increasing private investment in clean energy and falling prices as industries reap the rewards of economies of scale. Returning 100 percent of proceeds to households equally would spur broad-based economic growth.

We have admired the threats from climate change for long enough. It is long past time to call for implementation of the best step we can take to address climate change. Generating the political will to pass a revenue-neutral carbon fee is the moon shot we need. Private investment and energy markets will take care of the rest.

Gary Rucinski

The writer is the Massachusetts state coordinator of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby.