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N.H. Town Meetings to Vote on Call for Carbon Fee & Dividend

Annie Ropeik
NHPR File Photo

Town meeting ballots across New Hampshire on Tuesday will include a resolution in support of carbon pricing, due in part to the efforts of youth climate activists.

The warrant article is spearheaded by a group of nonprofits and advocacy groups, under the name Carbon Cash-Back Coalition.

The resolution doesn't give towns the power to set their own local carbon pricing. But if it's adopted by many towns together, organizers hope it will help push state and federal lawmakers to adopt a fee on carbon emissions, encouraging businesses toward renewable forms of energy. Under this plan, the revenue from the fee would be rebated equally among American households.

Bow High School sophomore Katie Lessard led the charge to get the article on her town’s ballot.

“I think it’s important to show the state and the government in general that we care, and that there are actually people who will kind of hold them accountable,” she says.

Several states have adopted carbon pricing schemes, and there's been some bipartisan support for a federal version in Congress. Some critics, including Bernie Sanders, say it's not an aggressive enough solution to climate change at this stage in the crisis. 

Lessard sees carbon fee and dividend as the kind of climate solution everyone can get behind – one that won't unfairly penalize either low-income people or businesses.

She says she’s made a point to get involved with climate campaigns like this one because she’s not yet old enough to vote.

“I feel like my generation’s not able to make their voices heard on issues, especially like this, which really impact our futures more than people of voting age’s futures,” Lessard says.

Close to 40 towns are voting on the resolution this week. Advocates hope to get it into city elections and onto 200 town meeting ballots next year.

Annie has covered the environment, energy, climate change and the Seacoast region for NHPR since 2017. She leads the newsroom's climate reporting project, By Degrees.
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