John Fetterman

John Fetterman, mayor of Braddock PA, is the new voice of the carbon cap and trade revolution to bring green jobs back to struggling towns and help build America’s renewable energy network.

Last week at the Toronto Green Living Show, notable Canadian politician Stephen Lewis spoke to the crowd and laid out three systems which governments and industries need to put in place in order to slow down the environmental problems we’re in:

  1. A Cap-and-Trade System
  2. A Carbon Tax
  3. Research Into Carbon Sequestering

And although a carbon tax has caused a lot of controversy, and there is still no quick and easy way to sequester carbon, there is no doubt that a cap and trade system could benefit both our economy and our environment. That’s a fact John Fetterman, the mayor of Braddock, PA, knows better than anyone.

Braddock PAThe town of Braddock, once a strong steel town of over 20,000 people, is now struggling along with only around 3,000 residents. The past few decades have been rough for the Pennsylvania community, but with Fetterman’s leadership, Braddock now has strong hopes that a cap and trade system can bring the historic town back to its former glory.

So what is a cap and trade system? Every company that emits carbon dioxide will have a set limit they are allowed to release into the atmosphere (the cap), but which will be lowered over time to ensure businesses become more efficient. Companies who are able to reduce their emissions faster than their limits entail them to will be allowed to sell their extra carbon credits to businesses that have a hard time reducing their emissions (the trade). In effect, it guarantees a set limit of emissions per year to be determined by the government, and financially rewards businesses that take the initiative to cut their carbon sooner than they need to.

Cap and Trade

As industries begin striving to run efficiently on clean energy, there’s going to be an increased need for things like solar panels, energy efficient windows, hydro turbines, LED lighting and of course wind turbines. According to Fetterman, a standard wind turbine has 8,000 parts and 250 tons of steel, and the old steel plants in Braddock (not to mention old auto plants) are made for that kind of work. In fact, the Environmental Defense Fund has gone as far as to map out exactly where and how many jobs will be created if a carbon cap-and-trade system is put in place, and it’s no small number.

It makes a lot of sense, and right now it’s looking like a great opportunity to combat two problems at once. Although Braddock has been lucky enough to gain national attention, there are hundreds or even thousands of towns across America that are suffering the same problems, but that don’t have Fetterman’s help to raise awareness.

Braddock’s still a town that’s a long way from restoring itself to its former glory, but there’s something you can do to help their struggle: take a minute to type in your information and send a pre-written letter off to Congress asking them to support a carbon cap and trade system. It’s a small price to pay for what may end up being economic stimulation, and we’ll never know until we try.

Photo credits: Lisa Kyle for the New York Times & Climate Lab


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