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Published on November 20th, 2009 | by Scott Cooney

6

Best Counterargument to Price on Carbon Hurting Jobs?

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November 20th, 2009 by
 
At yesterday’s Sustainable Industries Economic Forum, keynote presenter Paul Hawken was asked, “What is the best counterargument to the argument that carbon caps will raise energy costs and hurt our economy?”  In typical Hawken style, his earlier speech was well done, inspiring and insightful.  In typical Hawken style, his off-the-cuff answers to audience questions was where he really shone.  And this answer was perhaps his shining moment of the day. Hawken said, “If you had a child molester in your neighborhood who’s offering babysitting for $7 per hour, and then a nice girl named Betty comes and says she charges $10 per hour, are you going to say, ‘sorry Betty, he only charges $7′.”

So when did coal become our benchmark?  Sure, solar is kind of a hassle, so let’s just do mountain top removal instead.  Yeah, great idea.  Half the lakes in the U.S. are so contaminated with mercury you can’t fish them.  And that’s coal.  So, thanks a lot coal!

We need to convey this in a much more powerful way.

The idea of the right wing saying that a price on carbon is going to punish the middle class…it’s only through the incentive of innovation that we can get the world change we need.  By keeping energy costs so low, we’re suppressing innovation.  Why would anyone do weatherization unless they had an incentive to?

Programs that reduce the upfront cost of weatherization and efficiency upgrades will help defray the costs over time so that they will be offset by reduced energy usage, and these kinds of innovations can become widespread only if we all share the opportunity that cap and trade and other prices on carbon give us.

Scott Cooney is author of Build a Green Small Business:  Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill)

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About the Author

Scott Cooney (twitter: scottcooney) is an adjunct professor of Sustainability in the MBA program at the University of Hawai'i, green business startup coach, author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill), and developer of the sustainability board game GBO Hawai'i. Scott has started, grown and sold two mission-driven businesses, failed miserably at a third, and is currently in his fourth. Scott's current company has three divisions: a sustainability blog network that includes the world's biggest clean energy website and reached over 5 million readers in December 2013 alone; Pono Home, a turnkey and franchiseable green home consulting service that won entrance into the clean tech incubator known as Energy Excelerator; and Cost of Solar, a solar lead generation service to connect interested homeowners and solar contractors. In his spare time, Scott surfs, plays ultimate frisbee and enjoys a good, long bike ride. Find Scott on



  • emily

    These are all “green” people who like to do a lot of talking and not a lot of doing. The babysitter argument just doesn’t cut it. If you can’t do anything to make it cost-effective, too, then it’s hardly “innovative”.

    I don’t sympathize with the Republican point of view in the least, since they are the last to stand by the middle class (in reality), and they offer no real solutions. But the cost of investing in alternative energy is still extremely high right now, and unless heavily focus on cost-effective means like algae, and move away from expensive means such as hydrogen, we’re never going to get there.

    Also, we should remove subsidies to oil companies and transfer them to alternative energy companies…

  • emily

    These are all “green” people who like to do a lot of talking and not a lot of doing. The babysitter argument just doesn’t cut it. If you can’t do anything to make it cost-effective, too, then it’s hardly “innovative”.

    I don’t sympathize with the Republican point of view in the least, since they are the last to stand by the middle class (in reality), and they offer no real solutions. But the cost of investing in alternative energy is still extremely high right now, and unless heavily focus on cost-effective means like algae, and move away from expensive means such as hydrogen, we’re never going to get there.

    Also, we should remove subsidies to oil companies and transfer them to alternative energy companies…

  • emily

    These are all “green” people who like to do a lot of talking and not a lot of doing. The babysitter argument just doesn’t cut it. If you can’t do anything to make it cost-effective, too, then it’s hardly “innovative”.

    I don’t sympathize with the Republican point of view in the least, since they are the last to stand by the middle class (in reality), and they offer no real solutions. But the cost of investing in alternative energy is still extremely high right now, and unless heavily focus on cost-effective means like algae, and move away from expensive means such as hydrogen, we’re never going to get there.

    Also, we should remove subsidies to oil companies and transfer them to alternative energy companies…

  • Susan Kraemer

    Brilliant.

    “If you had a child molester in your neighborhood who’s offering babysitting for $7 per hour, and then a nice girl named Betty comes and says she charges $10 per hour, are you going to say, ’sorry Betty, he only charges $7′.”

    Right on. That hits it home.

  • Susan Kraemer

    Brilliant.

    “If you had a child molester in your neighborhood who’s offering babysitting for $7 per hour, and then a nice girl named Betty comes and says she charges $10 per hour, are you going to say, ’sorry Betty, he only charges $7′.”

    Right on. That hits it home.

  • Susan Kraemer

    Brilliant.

    “If you had a child molester in your neighborhood who’s offering babysitting for $7 per hour, and then a nice girl named Betty comes and says she charges $10 per hour, are you going to say, ’sorry Betty, he only charges $7′.”

    Right on. That hits it home.

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