The New York Times: How Do You Fix … All of It?

September 18, 2019

At the DealBook DC Strategy Forum a group of leaders in business, politics and academia gathered to try to solve problems from student debt to carbon emissions. Here are their recommendations.

Can Pricing Carbon Stall Climate Change?

Earlier this month, the 10 top-polling Democratic primary candidates took part in a CNN town hall event on climate change, the first prime-time televised forum devoted to the issue in a presidential campaign.

In perhaps the most significant development of that night, nine of the 10 candidates openly embraced the idea of putting a tax or fee on carbon dioxide pollution. While most economists agree it is the best way to cut emissions, it has drawn intense political opposition, such as from the so-called yellow-vest protesters in France last winter, when protests shut down the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower.

And this year, even as the issue of climate change gained political prominence, progressive lawmakers did not include a carbon tax or price in the Green New Deal.

Still, recent scientific reports, which have concluded that the impacts of climate change — stronger storms, droughts, heat waves, rising sea levels and flooding — are already being felt, have also called more explicitly on governments to respond by pricing carbon.

Polls have shown that rising numbers of Democratic primary, millennial and independent voters see climate change as an increasingly important issue. But the political path for the promise of turning that pledge into legislation remains steep and tricky. CORAL DAVENPORT

Recommendations

NET ZERO EMISSIONS
Although the panel could not reach consensus on how exactly we would get here, they agreed the federal government needs to place a limit on greenhouse gases with the goal of net zero emissions by no later than 2050, combined with carbon pricing.

REDIRECT FUNDS IN POSITIVE WAYS
A portion of the revenue from carbon pricing should go toward underserved and low-income communities, supporting them in a just and equitable transition away from fossil fuels.

Disputes
Members of the panel were divided on whether trading a carbon tax in exchange for stripping away regulations would be the most effective way to lower emissions. While most members of the panel agreed with the necessity of a price on carbon in general, there was little agreement on how to make a price on carbon palatable to Republicans and businesses, or even whether appealing to them is an important element to consider.

Task Force Moderator: Coral Davenport, energy and environmental policy correspondent, The New York Times.

Participants: Vicki Arroyo, executive director, Georgetown Climate Center; Jason Bordoff, founding director of Center on Global Energy Policy, professor of professional practice in international and public affairs, Columbia University; Carlos Curbelo, principal, Vocero; United States Representative Ted Deutch, Florida; Rhiana Gunn-Wright, policy director, New Consensus; Ted Halstead, chief executive and chairman, Climate Leadership Council; Nate Hurst, chief sustainability social impact officer, HP; Fred Krupp, president, Environmental Defense Fund; Erich Pica, president, Friends of the Earth U.S.; Mary Powell, chief executive and president, Green Mountain Power; Barry Rabe, professor of public policy, University of Michigan; Valerie Smith, managing director and global head, corporate sustainability, Citi; William Snape III, senior counsel Center for Biological Diversity, professor American University Law School; Alison Taylor, chief sustainability officer, Archer Daniels Midland Company; Daniel Zarrilli, chief climate policy adviser and OneNYC director, New York City Office of the Mayor.

Read the full article in The New York Times