Last week, the Climate Leadership Council introduced The Conservative Case for Carbon Dividends, a plan to institute a carbon tax in the US to address climate change. The organization, led by Ted Halstead, worked with former Republican Presidential cabinet members from the Reagan and both Bush administrations, in producing the plan.
In the past most Republicans have balked at the reality of climate change, have been stalwart climate deniers. They have steadfastly opposed—particularly at the federal level—climate change and pollution regulations, renewable energy expansion and carbon taxes, all the way back to at least James Baker III, Secretary of the Treasury under Reagan and Secretary of State under the elder President Bush. Apparently that could change.
“Crazy as it may sound, this is the perfect time to enact a sensible policy to address the dangerous threat of climate change,” wrote Climate Leadership Council’s CEO Halstead and his fellow authors Martin Feldstein and Gregory Mankiw in a New York Times Op-ed. Feldstein was Reagan’s Chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers and Mankiw held the same roll under the younger President Bush.
In the op-ed they observed that while President Obama warned of the very real dangers of global warming and took executive actions on climate change. But he was unable to sign legislation to address it because the Republican Congress did not agree with him.
“In comes President Trump, who seems much less concerned about the risks of climate change, and more worried about how excessive regulation impedes economic growth and depresses living standards,” they wrote. “As Democrats are learning the hard way, it is all too easy for a new administration to reverse the executive orders of its predecessors.”
They contended that such back-and-forth regulation is not a good way to protect the environment or the economy as it creates uncertainty for businesses. To counter these tides they called instead for climate policy to reduce carbon emissions, limit regulations, promote economic growth, help working-class Americans and remain in place regardless of who is in charge of the nation.
The plan was welcomed by The Nature Conservancy and others. “We’re encouraged to see a distinguished group of conservatives offering a market-based solution aimed at achieving significant reductions in carbon emissions,” said The Nature Conservancy Chief Executive Mark Tercek. “Climate change is a serious threat to our economies, our communities and our natural treasures. We have to be talking solutions now on both sides of the aisle, and this proposal is an opportunity to do that.”
The conservative plan to implement a carbon tax and reduce emissions has four pillars. It would implement a carbon tax on a fossil fuel at its point of entry into the economy. That could be at a mine, well or port. The tax, which they say could start at $40 per ton of CO2, for instance, would increase over time.
A second pillar would return the proceeds from the tax to the American people via quarterly dividend checks. Under the above scenario a family of four would receive $2,000 in the first year for, thanks to the quarterly divestments. As taxes on fossil fuel emissions, pressuring energy companies to turn to other forms of energy, the dividend payments would also rise.
The third pillar would implement border carbon adjustments, meaning that countries without carbon pricing would be subject to carbon carbon fees on imports and exports. The council argued this would reduce free-riding from countries without carbon taxes.
The fourth pillar would roll back regulations that they say the carbon tax would eliminate the need for. They added this could include phasing out the EPA’s authority on regulating carbon dioxide and repealing the Clean Power Plan.Tweet