By Michael Copp, Executive Vice President
The Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition defines carbon pricing as using pricing instruments to charge those emitters of greenhouse gasses (GHG), which trap heat and hence, heat up the planet, to “discourage the use of carbon dioxide–emitting fossil fuels in order to protect the environment, address the causes of climate change, and meet national and international climate agreements.” (Retrieved on the World Wide Web on May 7, 2021, at https://www.carbonpricingleadership.org/what/) With the United States rejoining The Paris Agreement, which was ratified by 179 countries and the EU back in 2015, we are recommitting ourselves to the goal of “keep[ing] global temperature increase well below 2°C and if possible, below 1.5°C” (Retrieved on the World Wide Web on May 7, 2021, at https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/11/paris-agreement-climate-change-us-biden/) by significantly reducing GHG emissions. President Biden announced in April his administration’s goal of cutting carbon emissions by half by 2030- with a larger goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “13 percent of 2019 greenhouse gas emissions [were discharged] from businesses and homes … primarily from fossil fuels burned for heat, the use of certain products that contain greenhouse gases, and the handling of waste.” (Retrieved on the World Wide Web on May 7, 2021, at https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/sources-greenhouse-gas-emissions). The transportation sector produced 29 percent of 2019 GHG emissions with 90 percent of fuel being petroleum based. The potential impact of carbon pricing on the plumbing and HVACR industry is huge.
Sean Cota (2021), President and CEO of National Energy & Fuels Institute (NEFI), wrote in his article, Carbon Pricing: Future Friend or Fatal Foe?, “Carbon taxes that arbitrarily raise the price of our products… could doom our industry. CI incentive programs that are market-based and technology neutral could empower us to recapture lost market share and grow our industry.” Whether it’s a carbon tax, shadow pricing, internal carbon fee, and other prescriptive approaches, carbon pricing will drive up prices that ultimately get passed along to the customer and will impede industry growth for our members if the industry does not advocate for CI incentive programs that benefit contractors, customers and the environment. Contractors might consider how they can reduce their carbon footprint by adopting sustainable practices while providing energy-efficient installations and ongoing service. As I wrote in an April 2021 edition of the PHCC EVP Team Brief, “PHCC contractors can offer ‘sustainability’ value-added services to their customers that might include: audits; remote monitoring; subscription-based annual maintenance; location considerations of high-quality shut-off valves and water heater; hot and cold pipe insulation to name a few opportunities.”