For vineyards, a carbon tax is at the service of companies
Drought, extreme heat, forest fires, power outages, smoke – over the past four years, these have become part of our normal experience in Napa Valley and all wine regions of the western United States.
As we look to the future of our agriculture-based multigenerational wine businesses, we recognize climate change as the existential threat to our current and continued success. We implore our government to adopt a carbon royalty and dividend policy similar to the bipartisan energy innovation and carbon dividend law, which obtained 85 co-sponsors at the last Congress.
We are first and foremost farmers. We are therefore deeply in tune with our natural environment and we are exceptional guardians of our territory. From organic farming practices, carbon sequestration and solar energy to significant investments that reduce our water use and carbon footprint, we are passionate about doing our part to promote an environment and a healthy climate.
Representative Mike Thompson, who is leading efforts to expand the use of renewable energy through federal tax incentives that promote clean energy technologies, says, “It is important to continue working together to reduce our carbon footprint, significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. “
Beyond what we do locally, we are actively engaged in the Porto Protocol and are among the 115 wineries and wine organizations across the country that have signed the wine industry climate declaration. In addition, Spottswoode Estate Vineyard & Winery was among the first six candidate members of International Wineries for Climate Action. This organization is dedicated to the active reduction of carbon emissions in the wine industry and has also signed the climate declaration.
Why are we so passionate about these questions? Because the survival of our businesses literally depends on a healthy natural environment and a relatively stable climate.
Putting a price on carbon is a business-friendly approach to reducing carbon emissions, and such a policy is the most effective step to bring about immediate change. We all respond to economic incentives – as Laura Tyson, professor at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, explained at an environmental summit hosted by Morgan Stanley this spring. “The government must be responsible for providing incentives for the private sector to invest in safeguarding our public good,” Tyson said. She cited the wider global adoption of a carbon emissions tax as perhaps the most effective mechanism to tackle climate change.
As the Biden administration has joined the Paris Agreement and prioritized climate change as an existential threat, now is the time to act. Action like the one envisioned in the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act offers an incredible opportunity to immediately reduce our carbon emissions by taxing those emissions and distributing the income in the form of monthly checks to all Americans.
It’s effective; it is good for the physical and economic health of all Americans; it is good for the economy through job creation; he is bipartisan; and it is revenue neutral. It also allows us to send a message to the world that the United States is back. This demonstrates that we accept responsibility for our significant contributions to the carbon emissions that continue to cause climate change. We can again lead by example by giving the best possible example.
We have said that climate action is good for business. Please understand that the status quo is anti-business. We all depend on a healthy natural environment. Being in agriculture, we feel it daily, personally and directly. A bill similar to the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act would unleash economic powers commensurate with the existential challenges of climate change. This is in line with capitalism, on which our country’s economy thrives and therefore demands and deserves our most fervent support.
Robin Lail is the founder of Lail Vineyards in Rutherford. Beth Novak Milliken is President and CEO of Spottswoode Estate Vineyard & Winery in Saint Helena.
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