Prominent Figures Speak Out on pricing carbon

For over a decade, prominent political figures, business leaders, economists, and organizations have spoken out about the need to price carbon. Below are 26 quotes speaking to its importance, ordered from most to least recent.


Mining Association of Canada

“Climate change is a global issue that requires a global solution. The Mining Association of Canada and its members offer the following principles for consideration: 1) Establish a broad-based carbon price. 2) Apply any climate change policy-related revenues to manage the transition toward a lower carbon future, including climate adaptation…” 

The Mining Association of Canada, Series of Principles, April 13, 2016

Jim Yong Kim

“Putting a price on carbon pollution is by far the most powerful and efficient way to reduce emissions.”

Jim Yong Kim, President, World Bank, April 23, 2016

Rex Tillerson

“We have held the view that a revenue-neutral carbon tax is the best option. (It) could be a workable policy framework for countries around the world. They can tailor it to their own economic conditions."

Rex Tillerson, ExxonMobil CEO, October 7, 2015

Christine Lagarde

“It is just the right moment to introduce carbon taxes.”

Christine Lagarde, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund, October 7, 2015

Gregory Mankiw

“Policy wonks like me have long argued that the best way to curb carbon emissions is to put a price on carbon. The cap-and-trade system President Obama advocates is one way to do that. A more direct and less bureaucratic way is to tax carbon. When polled, economists overwhelmingly support the idea.”

N. Gregory Mankiw, Robert M. Beren Professor of Economics at Harvard University, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush, and economic adviser to Mitt Romney during 2014 presidential race, September 4, 2015

Robert Frank

“Once people have to pay for their emissions, they find ingenious ways of reducing them.”

Robert H. Frank, professor of economics, Cornell University, August 3, 2015

Six Big Oil CEOs

“We believe that a price on carbon should be a key element of these frameworks. If governments act to price carbon, this discourages high carbon options and encourages the most efficient ways of reducing emissions widely, including reduced demand for the most carbon intensive fossil fuels, greater energy efficiency, the use of natural gas in place of coal, increased investment in carbon capture and storage, renewable energy, smart buildings and grids, off-grid access to energy, cleaner cars and new mobility business models and behaviors.”

CEO’s of six of Europe’s largest oil companies, letter to Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, May 29, 2015

Irwin Stelzer

“Price carbon to save the planet if that pleases you; price carbon to permit growth-enhancing reforms to our tax code if that pleases you; price carbon both to save the planet and to reform the tax structure, if that is your pleasure. But price it.”

Irwin Stelzer, Senior Fellow & Director of Hudson Institute's Economic Policy Studies Group, and Former Resident Scholar & Director of Regulatory Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute, May 7, 2015

Jim Yong Kim

“You can have growth that will protect the planet and decouple carbon emissions from growth. We can get it now, but it would be much easier if we put a price on carbon… When I meet business leaders from the very carbon-intensive industries, their openness to a carbon price is striking. They say, ‘let’s do it’.”

Jim Yong Kim, President, World Bank, April 13, 2015

George Schultz

“A carbon tax, starting small and escalating to a significant level on a legislated schedule, would do the trick. I would make it revenue-neutral, returning all net funds generated to the taxpayers so that no fiscal drag results and the revenue would not be available for politicians to spend on pet projects.”

George P. Schultz, former Secretary of State, March 13, 2015

Thomas Stephenson

“What we and a number of our colleagues believe is that a better way to price the externality of carbon and create a more level playing field is to pass a comprehensive and transparent national revenue-neutral carbon tax (RNCT) that would displace much of the existing energy and environmental regulatory maze."

Thomas F. Stephenson, Partner at Sequoia Capital Venture Fund, Former Ambassador to Portugal under President George H.W. Bush, Board Member of The Hoover Institution and Founder of its Shultz-Stephenson Energy Task Force, December 2, 2014

Stephanie Pfeifer

“In addition to encouraging investment in low-carbon generation, a carbon price also provides investors an incentive to pursue other low-carbon activities, such as tilting portfolios away from high-carbon investments, as they have a clearer view of the economic cost of holding high-carbon assets. However, without an effective price signal, the same incentives do not exist and investments get delayed or cancelled.”

Stephanie Pfeifer, Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (Europe); Nathan Fabian, Investor Group on Climate Change (Australia/New Zealand); Chris Davis, Investor Network on Climate Risk (North America); and Alexandra Tracy, Asia Investor Group on Climate Change, July 28, 2014

Holman Jenkins, Jr

“A straight-up, revenue-neutral carbon tax clearly is our first-best policy, rewarding an infinite and unpredictable variety of innovations by which humans would satisfy their energy needs while releasing less carbon into the atmosphere.”

Holman W. Jenkins, Jr., Wall Street Journal columnist, July 1, 2014

Henry Paulson

“The solution (to climate change) can be a fundamentally conservative one that will empower the marketplace to find the most efficient response. We can do this by putting a price on emissions of carbon dioxide — a carbon tax…Putting a price on emissions will create incentives to develop new, cleaner energy technologies.”

Henry Paulson, former Treasury Secretary, June 21, 2014

Richard Posner

“A more efficient method of limiting global warming than regulatory controls such as proposed by the President (and that as described promise to be a bureaucratic nightmare) would be a tax on carbon emissions, which I advocated in my 2005 book and which a number of countries have adopted.”

Richard Posner, University of Chicago, July 7, 2013

Richard Thaler

“Consider a recent poll of a panel of economists conducted by the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, where I teach…[Forty-one] economists in [a poll conducted by the] University of Chicago…were asked whether they agreed with this statement: ‘A tax on the carbon content of fuels would be a less expensive way to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions than would a collection of policies such as ‘corporate average fuel economy’ requirements for automobiles.’ On this question, there was just a single negative vote.

Richard H. Thaler, professor, University of Chicago Booth School of Business, April 1, 2012

Alan Blinder

“[A] carbon tax…should be enacted now…After that, it would ramp up gradually…What’s critical is that we lock in higher future costs of carbon today.

A CO2 tax trumps them all…reducing our trade deficit, making our economy more efficient, ameliorating global warming, and showing the world that American capitalism has not lost its edge.”

Alan Blinder, Former Federal Reserve Vice-Chairman and Princeton Professor of Economics and Public Affairs, January 31, 2011

Glenn Hubbard

Q:. “You have an idea for a flexible carbon tax. Why would Republicans go for that?”

A: “I am not a politician, but I think a couple of things might attract Republican interest. We’re not trying to raise revenue with this. The revenue should be recycled through tax cuts. The point here would be to solve the uncertainty problem in the private sector. You want to promote innovation, but you don’t want something like cap and trade.”

Glenn Hubbard, Dean of the Columbia University Graduate School of Business, Russell L. Carson Professor of Finance and Economics, Chairman (2001-2003) of the Council of Economic Advisors under George W. Bush, October 13, 2010

J. Wayne Leonard

We condemn Wall Street for taking risks with our economy… but at the same time we’re taking exactly the same kind of risks, with no upside whatsoever, with regard to our climate, failing to practice even the basic risk management techniques in terms of climate change reduction.”

J. Wayne Leonard, Chairman and CEO, Entergy Corporation, speaking at the Clean Energy Economy Forum at the White House in 2009

Arthur Laffer

“We need to impose a tax on the thing we want less of (carbon dioxide) and reduce taxes on the things we want more of (income and jobs). A carbon tax would attach the national security and environmental costs to carbon-based fuels like oil, causing the market to recognize the price of these negative externalities. [B]oth Democrats and Republicans could support a carbon tax offset by a payroll or income tax cut.”

Arthur Laffer, Father of supply-side economics, December 28, 2008

Wall Street Journal

"At yesterday's Deals & Deal Makers Conference in New York, Glenn Hubbard, the Columbia Business School Dean and former Bush administration economic adviser, argued in favor of a carbon tax. ‘I believe that technology is the vital solution to fixing the problems of climate change. Businesspeople don’t innovate because it feels good; they innovate because there’s a return to that innovation. If you want a return to that innovation, you will have to price it – you will need to put a price on carbon, which means having, either through a cap-and-trade system or an explicit tax, some incentive to innovate carbon-saving technology.’”

Wall Street Journal, June 27, 2007

Lawrence Summers

"I prefer carbon and/or gasoline tax measures to permit systems or heavy regulatory approaches because the latter are more likely to be economically inefficient and to be regressive.”

Lawrence Summers, Charles W. Eliot University Professor and former President, Harvard University, former Treasury Secretary, May 28, 2007

Alain Belda

"Of course, addressing climate change involves risks and costs. But much greater is the risk of failing to act. I am convinced that we can build a global plan of action on climate change in ways that create more economic opportunities than risks."  

Alain Belda, Chairman and CEO of Alcoa, February 20, 2007

Chad Holliday, Jr

“After studying the data, we came to the conclusion that the science [of climate change] was compelling and that action should be taken."

Charles O. "Chad" Holliday, Jr., Former Dupont Chairman and CEO (1998-2008), December 12, 2005

John Coomber

“Risk of climate change is real. It's here. It's affecting our business today."

John Coomber, CEO of insurer Swiss Re, December 12, 2005

President Ronald Reagan

“If we’ve learned any lessons during the past few decades, perhaps the most important is that preservation of our environment is not a partisan challenge; it’s common sense. Our physical health, our social happiness, and our economic well-being will be sustained only by all of us working in partnership as thoughtful, effective stewards of our natural resources.”

President Ronald Reagan, remarks on signing annual report of Council on Environmental Quality, July 11, 1984