The Inevitable Climate Solution

The Washington Post
June 19, 2017
By George P. Shultz and Lawrence H. Summers


Such a climate plan is not only feasible but is now gaining traction. On Tuesday, the Climate Leadership Council announced its founding members, a group of companies, opinion leaders and nongovernmental organizations who have joined forces to promote a consensus climate solution based on carbon dividends. We are proud to be part of this distinguished group.

The companies involved represent a cross section of industries: BP, ExxonMobil, General Motors, Johnson & Johnson, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, Santander, Schneider Electric, Unilever, Total and Shell. Two top environmental organizations are also involved, as are other opinion leaders from across the political spectrum.

We are convinced that the carbon dividends approach first put forward by one of us (Shultz) along with former secretary of state James A. Baker III a few months ago can strengthen the U.S. economy in ways highly valued by both the left and right and simultaneously spur global efforts to address climate change. Adopting a carbon dividend approach would pay huge dividends for the global climate, the U.S. economy and U.S. leadership in the world.

Our carbon dividend strategy has four interrelated elements that account for its strength: a gradually rising and revenue-neutral carbon tax; carbon dividend payments made equally to all Americans, to be funded using all the carbon-tax revenue; rollback of costly command-and-control regulations that were implemented because the environmental costs of carbon fuels have not been incorporated into their price; and border adjustment to ensure a level playing field and U.S. competitiveness.


Only the carbon dividend approach is consistent with these convictions. What we said at the outset here bears repeating: Our experience is that the transition from inconceivable to inevitable can be surprisingly rapid.