Posted on September 20, 2018 by Seth Jaffe
Last week, the Climate Leadership Council released an analysis demonstrating that the “Baker Shultz Carbon Dividends Plan” would result in greater reductions in greenhouse gas emissions than the US committed to attaining under the 2015 Paris agreement. (And a shout out to ACOEL fellow Pam Giblin, who is a Senior Policy Advisor at the CLC.)
I don’t doubt that the CLC analysis is right. If I had to guess, I’d predict that they probably underestimate the reductions that would be reached with a robust carbon tax.
I understand the difficulty in convincing what passes for the GOP base at this point – and the GOP members of Congress – to endorse the carbon tax. Oops, I meant dividend. I’m hopeful that enough members will come around at some point. My real worry is that the environmental movement will reject the plan because it calls for elimination of current regulations concerning carbon.
Years ago, Gina McCarthy used to say quite freely that the Obama administration would get most of its carbon reductions, not from direct regulation of GHG emissions, but instead from all of the other air regulations it was promulgating, such as the power plant MACT standards.
What environmentalists have to remember is that the reverse is also true – any robust program to reduce carbon emissions will also lower emissions of conventional pollutants. Indeed, in defending the Clean Power Plan, environmentalists have made that very argument. Why not acknowledge the same point in connection with a carbon tax and give up on a set of regulations that have always been clunky at best, are nowhere near as efficient a regulatory tool as a carbon tax, and which, as compared to a carbon tax, really benefit no one other than environmental lawyers and consultants?
God, wouldn’t it be a breath of fresh air to see Congress actually get something big done for the American people? Let’s not screw this one up.