One nuanced plan to address climate change has been embraced by public figures ranging from Michael Bloomberg, to the ExxonMobil Corporation, to Stephen Hawking.
Along with several others, they have signed on as “founding members” of the Climate Leadership Council (CLC), created by entrepreneur Ted Halstead, with the mission of crafting climate change solutions based on traditionally conservative ideas. These figures have signed on to a list that also includes Total SA, Raymond Dalio, Laurene Powell Jobs, and Ratan Tata, among others.
The council has already drafted a plan to tax carbon emissions and other climate pollution, and to redirect the income back to taxpayers, first announced in February. It was presented to Trump’s economic advisor, Gary Cohn, by former Treasury secretaries James Baker and George Shultz.
According to former Treasury Secretary, and member of the council, Lawrence Summers:
“When major fossil fuel producers are supporting a tax that will bear on fossil fuels, it’s hard to believe that it isn’t a good idea.”
The plan consists of four parts. First, a carbon tax on fossil fuel combustion which would ensure that energy prices are affected by the damage done to the environment. The money from that tax would be transferred to taxpayers on a monthly basis, linking long-term climate action to immediate economic benefits. The plan also involves a border tax on goods coming from countries that have not implemented a carbon tax, meant to ensure US companies are able to stay competitive. Lastly, once these measures are in place, the US would roll back current climate regulations.
An analysis by CLC in February indicated that a 40 dollar tax on each ton of carbon dioxide could meet the former President Obama’s own climate goals twice as fast as his own policies would have.
According to Eric Pooley, senior vice president at Environmental Defense Fund:
“Since the mid/late 70s, no major legislation passed unless a broad array of interests put their collective shoulder to the wheel and shoved really, really hard. There has to be political momentum.”
Halstead hopes to earn broad support from groups ranging from BP, to NGOs such as the Nature Conservancy and Conservation International. Together, the 11 companies that make up the founding members of the CLC have an annual revenue of 1.4 trillion. The companies operate in all 50 states and provide 1.6 million jobs around the world.