Conservatives call for free market solutions to climate change in wake of Paris Agreement
The president’s ill-conceived decision to leave the Paris Climate Agreement strengthens the resolve of the Partnership for Responsible Growth and others committed to adoption of a carbon fee. We will continue to make our case on Capitol Hill and within the business community. As Americans deal with rising coastal waters, droughts, superstorms, forest fires, insect-borne viruses, and other climate-related threats and as they see other economies around the world adapting, they will want their elected leaders to move forward rather than fall behind.
By George T. Frampton, Jr. and William C. Eacho
Parnership for Responsible Growth @
Withdrawing from the Paris agreement was short-sighted for many reasons. It is bad news for our economy, public health, the environment, and national security. The United States has joined a club whose only two other members are Syria and Nicaragua.
Because the Executive Branch has failed to provide leadership on a problem that 97 percent of climate scientists tell us calls for strong action, the rest of the nation must fill the vacuum. That means we need leadership from Congress, the states, cities, the business community, nonprofits, and 322 million Americans.
In tackling climate change, the number-one priority is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and that means burning less fossil fuel. The fastest, most efficient, and least expensive way to do that, economists say overwhelmingly, is to enact a national carbon fee. If carbon is more expensive (reflecting the hidden costs it imposes on all of us), then we will buy and burn less of it. That’s the simple, free market solution to this problem.
And there’s a bonus: Because a fee would generate sizable revenue, there will be money to cover the costs of tax cuts, infrastructure investment, and transition help for coal communities. A $40/metric ton fee, rising at 2 percent (plus inflation) per year, would produce $2 trillion over ten years. A portion of that could go back to families on the lower half of the income ladder to compensate them for slightly higher energy costs.
Concern about climate change is growing by the day. Our hundreds of meetings with Republicans and Democrats in Congress; the creation of the bipartisan House Climate Solutions Caucus; efforts by major corporations to reduce their carbon footprints; the carbon fee proposals by GOP giants James Baker, George Shultz, and Henry Paulson and the new Republican Alliance for Market Solutions; and multiple opinion surveys show that there is fast-growing momentum in our country to address this challenge.
One reason for this momentum is the increasing number of Americans being hired to help produce clean energy. The fastest-growing job in the United States is wind turbine engineer, and there are more people employed by the solar energy industry than the coal industry. Our economy–as well as the world’s–is making the transition from fossil fuels to renewables just as surely as we gave up horses for cars a century ago. A nation that stubbornly resists this inevitable transition, while other major nations embrace it, does so at its economic peril.
(George T. Frampton, Jr. was Senior of Counsel at Covington & Burling LLP in the firm’s climate and clean energy practice, as well as Chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) , Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and President of The Wilderness Society. William C. Eacho is a a Visiting Professor at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University; serves on the board of directors of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), the Salzburg Global Seminar, and the American-Austrian Foundation; he was also United States Ambassador to Austria.)
Contact: Jesse Vogel