When we are talking about climate change and energy solutions we must examine the United States and its subsidies for fossil fuels. It is no secret that oil, coal, and other dirty fossil fuels are propped up by the government, and that the companies producing these types of energy have their hands in the pockets of many of our politicians. Despite this it never seems to occur to our elected officials claiming to have the solutions on climate change that propping up one industry over another is neither a free market nor a green market.
Rolling Stone Magazine reports that the United States has spent more money on subsidies and supporting industries like oil and coal than it has spent on war and defense. In 2015 the total budget reported by the pentagon came to about $599 billion while tax subsidies for fossil fuels came to about $649 billion. It shouldn’t surprise us then that these industries remain competitive and that these types of carbon producing energy sources remain popular in the U.S. When we consider how we subsidize carbon in this country,we begin to see that a carbon tax is redundant when compared to the option of phasing out the subsidies that push carbon production in the first place.
Not only do subsidies like this harm green energy that would otherwise be more readily produced and consumed by a free market, but the regulations do as well. The Harvard Business Review reports that unnecessary regulations are costing the solar industry alone an additional $70 billion. Such regulations also slow the growth of solar by making it less effective, for instance regulations that prevent many Americans from investing in “plug and play solar” systems that would allow them to use significantly less grid electricity wherever they live at the time.
Instead of adding new taxes and regulations that will only harm Americans and cost both the government and the economy billons of dollars I propose getting rid of the regulations that kill green energy, and the subsidies that prop up their polluting competitors. I suggest these subsidies be phased out overtime to avoid shocking the economy since their removal will lead to increased prices in fossil fuels that we still rely infrastructurally. Over time, this will even the odds and green energy will begin to see new triumphs.
By adopting a truly free market system that allows the consumer, not the government, to regulate the energy economy I believe we will see significant growth in the green energy sector, by default leading to a reduction in our carbon footprint. I suggest that in this case, and more often than not, that the government is the problem not the sollution when it comes to allowing the growth and embrace of green energy and technology that carries the answers to climate change.