A group of senior Republicans, including former secretaries of state George Schultz and James Baker, are calling for plans to institute a national carbon tax to replace the Obama administration’s federal regulations. The group of elder statesmen met with White House officials on Wednesday to discuss how the Trump administration can craft a “free market, limited government” approach to controlling greenhouse gas emissions.

Their plan suggests a 40-dollar tax for each ton of carbon emitted, an amount that would gradually increase over time. The group specified, to appease Republicans disinclined to support a new tax, that income from the tax would be distributed to the American public on a quarterly schedule. The proposal estimates that a family of four would receive about 2,000 dollars a year in dividends from the tax, which would help to offset any increased fuel costs.

According to the group:

“Mounting evidence of climate change is growing too strong to ignore. For too long, many Republicans have looked the other way, forfeiting the policy initiative to those who favor growth-inhibiting command-and-control regulations.”

The tax plan would replace federal regulations put in place by Obama which limit carbon dioxide emissions levels. The Obama administration proposed a similar market based plan, only to see it blocked by staunch Republican opposition. The administration then turned to the Environmental Protection Agency to set rules directly limiting emissions.

A report by the group states:

“Carbon dividends would increase the disposable income of the majority of Americans while disproportionately helping those struggling to make ends meet .Yet these dividends are not giveaways; they would be earned based on the good behavior of minimizing our carbon footprints.”

Trump, as well as Republicans in congress, have expressed skepticism over the reality of climate change caused by human activities.  The president has even suggested the US will back out of the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

However, support for a carbon tax plan like this one has enjoyed broad support, from corners as diverse as ExxonMobil and former vice-president Al Gore.

Secretary of state from the George H.W Bush administration, James Baker, admitted it would be an uphill battle to convince the president, saying:

“We may not convince the president, but it’s a good plan because it’s a conservative, free market and limited government approach to the problem. Republicans have not been at the table because we are skeptics or deniers. But if you see what’s happening to the environment, even if it’s happened before 10,000 years ago, that’s a risk we shouldn’t have to take.”
 

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