If the president is open to taking the advice in Todd Stern’s Jan. 25 op-ed, “The deal of the century on climate,” he should do so by pursuing the one option that would also help him deliver on tax reform and infrastructure. That option is a carbon fee, which a large majority of economists (and our incoming secretary of state) say is the quickest, most efficient and most potent solution to climate change. If Congress finally puts a price on carbon emissions, the free market will drive down the use of carbon. That’s what Canada is doing.
For our dealmaker in chief, the bait is the money that would come pouring in. If we adopted a fee of $35 per metric ton (MT) of carbon dioxide, with annual increases of inflation plus 4 percent, it would generate $1.5 trillion to $2 trillion over 10 years. That would go a long way toward paying for infrastructure, tax cuts — and maybe even part of that border wall.
The U.S. national debt held by the public equals nearly $12 trillion. That’s sobering enough. Now the Congressional Budget Office is predicting that it will soar by $8.6 trillion over the next 10 years.
As global temperature records continue to be topped, a carbon fee is a simple way to help us achieve several goals. It represents the kind of old-fashioned, bipartisan compromise that our elected officials are paid to hammer out.
George T. Frampton Jr., Washington
The writer is co-founder of the Partnership for Responsible Growth.