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Local residents hear about the economics of climate change action

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Michael O’Hara of Citizens’ Climate Lobby reports on the economic and health benefits of pricing carbon emissions.
February 6, 2018 11:50 am

HUDSON — Approximately 70 people, including a group of ninth-grade science students from a boarding school in Connecticut, gathered at the Hudson Area Library on Jan. 28 for “Talking Sen$e about a Sustainable Future,” a forum on the economics of climate change solutions.

Keynote speaker David Levine, founder and CEO of the American Sustainable Business Council, which represents some 250,000 companies (including Hudson-based Etsy), stressed that the old warning about environmental protection hurting the economy and jobs is a myth. “People are surprised to learn there’s a strong business case to be made for sustainability,” he said.

The other guest speakers, Sara Hsu, assistant professor of Economics at SUNY New Paltz; Mark Dunlea, chairperson of the Green Education and Legal Fund; and Rabbi Glenn Jacob, executive director of NY Interfaith Power and Light, fleshed out his picture with details about proposed bills in the New York State Legislature that promote clean energy and would speed the transition of our state’s power grid to 100% renewable power by 2050 or even sooner.

Michael O’Hara, of Hudson, representing the Columbia County Chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby, which sponsored the forum, stressed the role that ordinary citizens play in affecting public policy and emphasized that, contrary to common assumptions, a growing number of Republicans in the U.S. Congress are open to taking action on the climate problem. Describing CCL’s carbon fee and dividend proposal, O’Hara showed graphs demonstrating that if all the money collected from the fee (or tax) were returned by equal monthly dividends to American households, very few would lose money, and people’s subsequent spending patterns would result in a great many new jobs.