Although Republicans and energy companies aren’t the first words that pop into your head when you think of climate advocacy, the times are a-changing. Not only are market forces ensuring conglomerates are divesting in fossil fuels (primarily oil and coal) and investing in renewable energy, but even senior Republicans are coming out and declaring their support for action.
The Climate Leadership Council (CLC) is one such mixture of Republicans and energy companies that have come up with their own plan to fight climate change. Specifically, they propose a federal “carbon dividend”, where carbon emissions will be taxed, and the funds will be invested back into the public sector.
The CLCs founding members include BP, Shell, and ExxonMobil, as well as General Motors. James Baker III (Secretary of Treasury under Reagan and Secretary of State under Bush I), as well as George Shultz (Secretary of State under Reagan), are also listed as founders.
“A $40 price per ton on carbon, rising in a predictable way, could be the centerpiece of US action and leadership on climate,” Andrew Steer President of the World Resources Institute – a CLC partner – told reporters.
This dividend will have one of two effects. If a company decides to keep pumping out greenhouse gases (GHGs), then the revenue collected will be given to the America public in some way or another. Alternatively, the high price means that companies may choose to find low-carbon methods to fuel their businesses.
“In bringing together major companies with prominent thinkers and policy experts across the political spectrum in support of this proposal, the CLC is delivering a clear message to elected officials in Washington: putting a price on carbon is a powerful tool for unleashing markets to strengthen the U.S. economy and rapidly reduce carbon emissions,” Steer added.
“President Trump and Congress would do well to heed these voices and put in place policies like the CLC proposal to achieve these twin goals.”
It’s not just Republicans and energy companies that have joined the CLC, mind you. Prominent scientists such as Stephen Hawking and philanthropists like Michael Bloomberg have also put their name to the plan. It’s a serious plan with some serious backers – but will it work?