The Climate Leadership Council comprised of a older and established Republicans have released a plan to begin taxing carbon at $40 per ton. “The Conservative Case for Carbon Dividends” lays out a scenario where that price would rise each year and where carbon emissions would fall.
The group, which includes former Secretary of State James Baker, former Secretary of State George Shultz and former secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson, says that $194 billion in revenues would be generated in year one — a figure that it expects to increase to $250 billion a decade later. That money would then be returned to the American people in the form of a “dividend,” although separate versions of the idea have suggested it go toward funding newer technologies to reduce emissions.
“If you look at the priorities of President Trump, our plan ticks every one of his boxes,” said Ted Halstead, founder and president of the council, in a press conference in Washington, D.C., in a story by Scientific American. “It is pro-growth. It is pro-jobs. It is pro-competitiveness. It would balance trade. And last but hardly least, it would be good for working-class Americans.”
Who else had input? Gregory Mankiw and Martin Feldstein, former chairmen of the Council of Economic Advisers, and Rob Walton, the former chairman of Wal-Mart, says the New York Times. The council says that it would help the US fulfill its obligations under the Paris climate accord.
The New York Times then noted that Secretary Baker is scheduled to meet with members of the Trump administration. Getting the meeting, though, is the easy part: Convincing the Republican-led House and Senate is the hard part, especially under the leadership of Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-KY, who represents a coal state that does not want any further constraints on the product it mines and sells.
That’s not to say that lawmakers eventually be couldn’t be convinced, especially because some of the oil giants have come out in favor of putting a price on carbon: ExxonMobil, BP and Royal Dutch Shell, as reported by Environmental Leader.
“It’s really important that we Republicans have a seat at the table when people start talking about climate change,” Secretary Baker said, in the Times piece. “I don’t accept the idea that it’s all man made,” he said, “but I do accept that the risks are sufficiently great that we need to have an insurance policy.”
In an earlier phone interview, the former EPA chief under George W. Bush and the former Governor of New Jersey, Christine Todd Whitman, told this reporter that many national conservatives are deferential to those scientists who say that global warming is largely a function of man-made emissions, notably from burning fossil fuels. But she admits that such thinkers are generally “moderate” and, by nature, are not as vocal as some of the more extreme members of the party.
To this end, she says that the United States should take a similar approach and that public investments in newer and cleaner technologies will likewise bear fruit. The former EPA chief says that she is sympathetic to those states whose economies have relied on coal and whose coal miners will be adversely affected. But Whitman says that responsible leadership is about making difficult choices.
“One thing you learn when you are in a position to make decisions is that you have to do what is in the best interest of the greatest number,” Whitman says. “The decision will have the same impact on everyone but you have to mitigate the negative impact. I’d rather see us bring the new energy technologies to those states most affected. You cannot walk away from what will have the biggest benefit because there will be people who don’t get as good of a deal. At some point, you have to have leadership.”
The nation’s cities, she adds, are at the forefront of adopting sustainability standards — choosing to improve the quality of life and to attract people and jobs — to their regions. Whitman points to major companies that are actively improving their communities by pledging to reduce their carbon footprints, as well as that of their suppliers: Texas Instruments Inc., United Technologies Corp. and WalMart.
As Whitman says, the climate may be challenging but the cause has never been more important.