For a carbon tax to succeed in the political arena and last, it must not only be popular but also bipartisan and supported by key stakeholders in the debate. Imagine if environmentalists, the oil and gas industry, Republicans and Democrats could all be on the same side?
This may seem unlikely, but recent developments suggest otherwise. Two weeks ago, two Republicans and three Democrats introduced the first bipartisan climate bill in a decade in the U.S. House. It calls for a rising carbon fee and returning 100 percent of the revenue directly to American citizens. The bill would also open the door to replacing various carbon regulations with a carbon fee, which could appeal to conservatives and businesses. Of course, a bill introduced in a lame-duck session is only a starting point.
More encouraging is that a remarkably broad climate coalition is aligning behind a similar national solution that my organization developed, known as the Baker-Shultz Carbon Dividends Plan. While there are important differences with the bill recently introduced in the House, they are directionally consistent. Our plan is based on four pillars: a rising carbon fee starting at $40 per ton, with 100 percent of the money returning directly to citizens, regulatory relief and a border carbon adjustment.
This Republican-inspired plan could exceed the U.S. commitment under the Paris climate agreement, benefit the majority of Americans families, shrink the size of government and provide companies regulatory certainty. This time, environmentalists and industry are working together to develop the details. And already, the largest utility, oil and gas company, solar company and wind energy trade association in the United States is putting its money behind the plan.
The recent developments in France, Canada, Washington state and the District all point to the same conclusion: A carbon dividends framework is the winning climate solution we have been waiting for.