Senior GOP Voices Lift Campaign for a Fee on Carbon

Statement by the Partnership for Responsible Growth

For Immediate Release:

This is a big moment for the political debate on climate change. Seven of the nation’s most respected conservative Republicans have added their voices to the growing chorus saying that climate change is real and that a carbon tax is the smartest and most efficient solution.

The seven are James A. Baker III, Treasury secretary for President Reagan and secretary of state for President George H. W. Bush; Henry M. Paulson Jr., Treasury secretary for President George W. Bush; George P. Shultz, Treasury secretary for President Nixon and secretary of state for Mr. Reagan; Thomas Stephenson, a partner at Sequoia Capital, a venture-capital firm; Rob Walton, who recently completed 23 years as chairman of Walmart, and former Council of Economic Advisers Chairmen Martin Feldstein and Greg Mankiw. They were joined by Ted Halstead, the founder, president and CEO of the Climate Leadership Council and a member of our Advisory Board.

This is the latest sign of growing Republican concern about our climate and of our responsibility to provide future generations with a healthy economy and planet. Ten House Republicans have joined the new bipartisan House Climate Solutions Caucus, reflecting polls showing an increase in GOP voters’ support for government action.

The Baker-Shultz team proposes a $40 carbon tax with all proceeds returned to taxpayers as the “Republican free market” approach.  We think it more likely that this Congress will want to use the bulk of the funds to offset the costs of cutting taxes and that the debate over tax reform offers the best opportunity to price carbon. Our meetings with members of Congress also tell us that most Republicans also want tax reform paid for.

The size of the fee and the allocation of the proceeds can be hammered out by Congress. What matters far more is to put a price on carbon, as the long-time GOP leaders urge, and let the free market help us reduce carbon emissions. And the sooner Congress acts, the better our chances of hitting the science-based targets.

The business community has been moving toward action on climate change, and we hope more business leaders will join this campaign in the wake of yesterday’s proposal. If enough of them voice support, Congress will act.

Contact: Jesse Vogel, Managing Director, (614) 572-6046

Climate progress would reduce deaths caused by air pollution

It seems to be getting tougher to breathe. Schools were shut down in Rybnik, Poland, the first week of January because the pollution posed such a risk to children. Warsaw residents inhale the equivalent of 1,000 cigarettes a year. An estimated 45,000 Poles will die prematurely this year due to air pollution, The New York Times reported.

The nation burns a lot of coal, providing 85 percent of its electricity and 43 percent of its heat. When brutal cold swept into the country in early January, home heating units went into overdrive, and many of them are hugely inefficient.

Sadly, Poland is not the only country where breathing is killing people. The World Health Organization (WHO) found that 90 percent of the people on the planet live in areas with unsafe air pollution levels. If you spend any time looking at the international pages of newspapers and magazines, you’ve probably seen people in Beijing and Delhi walking around with protective masks. The World Bank estimates that air-related deaths cost $225 billion a year. That’s serious money.

The good news is that if the United States and other nations make progress on climate change, we can count on simultaneous progress on cleaning up the air we breathe. As we burn less coal and other fossil fuels, fewer of us will die prematurely. We’ll miss less work. Fewer kids will suffer from asthma. As Dr. Phil Landrigan of Mount Sinai Medical School told Time, “You make the case on public-health grounds, you make a moral case, you make a business case."

 

More Businesses Want Action on Climate

“Anyone who fears that the fight against climate change suffered a fatal blow when the United States elected a climate change skeptic should spend a couple of hours with some of the business leaders who are charging ahead toward a no-carbon future,” said William C. Eacho, after he spoke at the winter conference of the U.S. Business Council for Sustainable Development (BCSD).

“The conversations I had with representatives of General Motors, Ingersoll Rand, Entergy, ABB, and many other companies boosted my confidence that we will achieve the goal that scientists say we must,” said Eacho, co-founder of the Partnership for Responsible Growth (PRG). “But that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy.”

Eacho delivered the keynote speech at the conference, hosted by Duke’s Fuqua School of Business January 11 and 12. He made the case that with the Trump administration so fervently opposed to federal regulations, a free-market climate solution makes more sense than ever. He also pointed out that the job growth that carbon-funded tax cuts would generate, plus the boost to American global competitiveness, would appeal to President-elect Trump.

A carbon fee would provide a number of benefits besides helping us combat climate change, he told the business audience. “The new administration and the new Congress are eager to create an infrastructure program, cut taxes, and take other steps. But somehow we need to pay for these initiatives--or the national debt will shoot up even faster. A carbon fee of $35 per metric ton, with annual increases, could bring in $2 trillion over ten years. There’s no alternative revenue stream that’s even close.”

While Eacho was speaking at Duke, a coalition of eight business and environmental groups was issuing the Business Backs a Low-Carbon USA statement. More than 530 companies and 100 investors have signed the statement, addressed to President-elect Trump, President Obama, members of Congress, and “global leaders.” Business Backs a Low-Carbon USA kicked off in December 2015 with a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal urging U.S. and international leaders to adopt an ambitious climate agreement in Paris.

Are Voters Ready to Ditch Efforts to Combat Climate Change?

The American people spoke on November 8, and they want to ditch efforts to combat climate change, right? Wrong. According to the first poll since the election to deeply examine the policy views of self-identified Trump voters, 55 percent of them support upholding current climate change policies, with 30 percent saying that the U.S. should implement policies that go further.