The implementation of a simple, clear and consistent carbon tax plan will spur investment in alternative energy sources. The proceeds from a carbon tax could could invested in government infrastructure projects that reorient our society for a low carbon future or pay for voucher programs.
Developing and deploying smart grids so communities can share energy resources is of monumental importance. The government must also invest in rail with the assumption that a climate or fuel crisis could make air travel impossible. Just as the auto industry bought public rail lines and turned them into roads, the government must turn public roads into light and heavy rail lines. We need to invest in rail like we invested in our interstate system. The longer we wait to make this type of investment, the more vulnerable we will be to food, fuel and environmental crises.
The government must also create a legal framework that encourages distributed energy solutions. In a low-carbon scenario where fossil fuel is in short supply, individuals and communities must have the capacity to produce their own energy. The technologies exist – wind, solar, geothermal and biomass are all distributed energy solutions – but the legal framework needed to deploy these technologies does not. Inconsistent regulation of the energy market, uncooperative utility companies and erratic government incentive packages are preventing the mass adoption of distributed energy solutions.
We must create a standardized, national political solution that enables every community to invest in their own energy production capacity. When a community generates it’s own energy, it becomes more prosperous, secure and stable. Worst case scenarios become much less frightening.