This idea of some form of carbon tax has been proposed several times before, and it’s already in operation in other territories across the world. However, as noted by the CLC, it has run into plenty of problems in America, mainly because it keeps getting referred to as a “tax.”
Whenever Democrats propose a carbon tax, it often causes the public to become wary – particularly Republican-leaning voters, who hate the idea of higher taxes in general. Several senior Republicans have quietly proposed a carbon tax too, but these plans have received little attention.
The announcement by the CLC carefully highlights the phrase “dividend”, whereas “tax” is featured less prominently. In light of the recent global uptick in support for the Paris agreement, it seems likely that they’re hoping to ride this wave and get the attention of Congress. Only time will tell if they succeed.
Two-thirds of Americans supported the US staying in the Paris climate agreement, and when the President announced he intended to withdraw from it, 60 percent said this was a bad decision that would affect the environment and the economy.
With numbers like that, it’s actually unsurprising that a sizeable number of Republicans want to do something about climate change, even if it doesn’t involve Paris.
Just look at the Climate Alliance, a coalition of US Governors, mayors and business leaders that still support strong climate change action. Notably, this group is bipartisan.
However, the CLC’s rather conservative plan will run into the same problem that all carbon tax plans encounter: other Republicans. With coal and oil funding Senate and House GOPs at record levels, the only way you’re likely to see Congressional support for any action on climate change in any capacity is if either chamber is flipped in the upcoming midterms.