As President Obama unveiled his plan of action to address climate change earlier this week, my husband and I were part of a group of 370 citizen lobbyists from across the U.S. and Canada who fanned out over Capitol Hill to make the case for the market-based approach of a revenue-neutral carbon tax to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. What a whirlwind of a week! While I can’t say that we solved the climate crisis, I can tell you that our meetings with 435 congressional offices, the World Bank, the IMF, and the Canadian Embassy are shifting the conversation about pricing carbon pollution.
In his speech at Georgetown University to debut his climate plan, Obama announced that he would direct the Environmental Protection Agency to complete carbon pollution standards for both new and existing power plants.
Mark Reynolds, Executive Director of Citizens Climate Lobby responded to President Obama’s speech by emphasizing the conservative nature of a straightforward carbon tax:
“The President is making good on his State-of-the-Union promise to address climate change, when he said, ‘If Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will’. We’re here to tell Congress there’s still time for them to act, particularly if they want to avoid the use of increased regulations to reduce heat-trapping gases. The clock has started on the process that will eventually result in the use of EPA regulations to reduce carbon pollution in the energy sector. Is this what Republicans want? Or would they prefer using a market-based solution that speeds the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy?”
A number of conservative economists, including Reagan advisor Art Laffer and Romney advisor Greg Mankiw, have backed a revenue-neutral carbon tax as the most efficient and effective means to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They maintain that carbon-based fuels enjoy an advantage over clean technologies because their costs to society – health, security and environmental – is not reflected in the price that’s paid for them. Correcting this distortion would allow the market to function properly and reduce the demand for fossil fuels.
“We believe this solution – a tax on carbon that gives all the revenue back to the public – could be embraced by conservatives, especially as an alternative to government regulations. That’s the message our volunteers are taking to Republican offices today.” Mark Reynolds, Executive Director, Citizens Climate Lobby
Citizens Climate Lobby wrapped up a three-day conference today with hundreds of volunteers conducting meetings with 439 House and Senate offices.
“The President’s speech couldn’t be better timed,” said Reynolds. “It gives Republicans a good reason to take a serious look at a revenue-neutral carbon tax. Like objects in a passenger-side mirror, the tipping point for a carbon tax might be closer than it appears.”
In case you missed President Obama’s awesome speech, here it is: