By Giovanna Santo, Citizens’ Climate Lobby
On Sept. 28, one of the largest hurricanes in U.S. history tore through Florida, leaving death and destruction in its wake. Many experts are attributing some of its power to the warming climate.
Floridians need real climate action from the government, but many of the climate policies floating around Congress either hurt American businesses or fail to limit pollution from other more carbon-intensive countries. We need a policy that avoids both of those things, one that’s designed to efficiently reduce emissions: a carbon border adjustment.
First, I want to explain why a climate policy is necessary for Floridians. Most Floridians are familiar with the harrowing data from Hurricane Ian: 114 deaths, more than 45,000 people displaced, and about 2.7 million people left without power for days.
Some storm surges were 10 feet high. Insurance companies expect to face over $55 billion in losses, and FEMA Director Deanne Criswell warns that the hurricane will cost the U.S government several billion dollars. These costs will likely be transferred to taxpayers.
Ian was unusually strong and part of its unusual power can be attributed to the unnaturally warm waters in the Atlantic Ocean caused partly by climate change.
When a hurricane passes over very warm waters, it can intensify dramatically in a short period of time. This is called rapid intensification. The warm waters of the Atlantic turned Ian from a tropical storm into a category 4 hurricane in only 36 hours.
As tropical storms become more powerful, Floridians and Florida businesses will experience disruptions, displacements, and staggering losses more often. Floridians are also at risk of facing higher insurance premiums and taxes.
The warming climate also will damage agriculture, and produce extreme heat and sea level rise.
Fortunately, there is a proposal that will not only address the largest polluters in the world, but will benefit American businesses: a carbon border adjustment (CBA).
A CBA is a fee levied on imported goods from foreign companies, based on the carbon content of the goods. If the importing company is from a country that has less effective carbon regulations than the U.S., a fee is charged. Manufacturers around the world often can make goods cheaply because they have fewer regulations on pollution.
A CBA incentivizes countries producing carbon emissions to adopt cleaner manufacturing processes and energy sources. A CBA is a climate policy that does not target American businesses and bolsters the American economy. Lawmakers from both parties should embrace such legislation.
Two Democratic senators introduced a CBA bill in 2021. It is estimated that 12% of U.S. imports would be subject to the tax, which would take effect in 2024.
Considering the potential damage Florida faces from a warming climate, the state’s two Republican senators, Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, should throw their support behind this proposed legislation.
Giovanna Santo is a senior at West Broward High in Pembroke Pines. She is the co-leader of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby Broward Chapter.
“The Invading Sea” is the opinion arm of the Florida Climate Reporting Network, a collaborative of news organizations across the state focusing on the threats posed by the warming climate.