Carbon Tax Plan Worthy of Bipartisan Support

San Antonio Express-News

A group of venerable Republicans has put forward an intriguing carbon tax plan to address human impact on climate change.

For too long, many Republicans have wanted the GOP to be the party of denial on this issue, dismissing scientific consensus about man-made climate change. There is no denying the Earth is warming, quite rapidly. With that warming comes immense potential peril for future generations. Rising sea levels. Drought. Flooding. Scarcity of resources.

The group — the Climate Leadership Council — advocating this carbon tax is new, but some members — notably George P. Shultz — are not new to advocating sensible energy policy.

Like it or not, man-made emissions are a factor when it comes to climate change. In a unanimous statement addressing human impact on climate change, Texas A&M University’s Atmospheric Sciences Department says, “It is extremely likely that humans are responsible for more than half of the global warming between 1951 and 2012.”

The statement goes on to say that if we do nothing to limit emissions, the Earth’s temperature will likely rise between 2.5 and 7 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century.

Enter the Climate Leadership Council, which includes former Treasury Secretaries James Baker III, Henry Paulson Jr. and Schultz, who is also a former secretary of state. The group is proposing a carbon tax and dividend policy as a replacement for the Obama administration’s climate policies.

Under this plan, the carbon tax would start at $40 a ton, increasing over time. The revenues would then be shared with consumers in quarterly dividends. A family of four, for example, would likely receive an annual “carbon dividend” of about $2,000 to begin with.

The idea is that the carbon tax would increase the costs of emissions, using market forces to drive innovation and clean technology development. The dividends would help American consumers cover the additional energy costs. 

It’s a quintessentially conservative plan. Ditch the regulation and use market forces to cultivate change.

To level the playing field, the tax would be applied to energy imports from countries that don’t have such a carbon tax on their own. But there would be no carbon tax on U.S. energy exports to such countries.


What’s refreshing is that this is a serious effort from esteemed Republican leaders to address a growing global challenge. It is an idea that could be used to forge a middle way between a total lack of regulation and too much regulation. 

The vast majority of American voters — 78 percent per a Yale survey — support action to mitigate human impact on climate change. 

The carbon tax honors that desire for climate action much more than denial.

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