In his final State of the Union address, President Obama focused on four questions. One was: How do we make technology work for us, and not against us — especially when it comes to solving urgent challenges like climate change? Another was: How can we make our politics reflect what’s best in us, and not what’s worst?
We can help technology solve our climate problem by making sure that the free market is sending the right signals. If we put a price on carbon, there will be more incentive to develop the technology that will enable us to move more quickly to the renewable energy sources that can combat climate change and ensure a prosperous future. Pricing carbon is the simplest, most efficient approach, and Congress should make this part of the tax reform initiative that virtually everyone, on both sides of the aisle, agrees we need.
The other question posed by the president dealt with making the political system work. Right now Congress is trying to block the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. Instead, Congress should seek a creative compromise: enacting a price on carbon and using half the revenue generated to reduce the corporate tax rate. Such a reduction has been a GOP goal for years, and a carbon fee is probably the only way to raise the money to pay for that rate cut.
Our nation needs to remain a leader in the fight against climate change. That means, at a minimum, honoring the pledge we made in Paris. The Clean Power Plan gets us only part way to that target. A price on carbon can get us all the way there while incentivizing our economy to create new technologies and allowing companies to be more internationally competitive.