Putting a price on carbon pollution is by far the most powerful and efficient way to reduce emissions”

Jim Yong Kim, World Bank President

Recent Carbon Tax Developments

Over the past few years, conservatives as well as
liberals have put forth a wide range of carbon tax
proposals.  A range of advocacy and research organizations
have crafted economic analyses and critiques of
how a carbon tax would impact the economy,
businesses and consumers.  Many analyses offer a
highly positive assessment of the benefit of a carbon tax in stimulating new investments in clean energy and reducing carbon pollution.  Some, however, paint a cautionary picture of how a carbon tax might impact low-income communities.

In 2009, at the grassroots level and ever since, Citizens' Climate Lobby began advocating for for a Carbon Fee and Dividend, a carbon tax that proposes a $15/ton price on all GHGs, annual increases of $10/ton, the return of all revenues to households, and a carbon fee border adjustment. 

In 2017, eleven major companies, including GM, Exxon, P&G, PepsiCo, and Unilever, publicly endorsed a similar plan from the Climate
Leadership Council
.  Called Carbon Dividends, the plan calls for an initial $40/ton price on just CO2 emissions and a roughly 2% over inflation annual increase. Like the CCL plan, this plan returns all revenue to households and includes a border adjustment.   Additionally, the plan calls for regulatory rollback and limited tort liability.  

In Congress, on July 23rd, Congressman Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) introduced the Market Choice Act, which calls for a $24 per ton tax on CO2. Citing the moral responsibility to not "saddle young people with environmental debt," Curbelo’s bill calls for eliminating the gasoline tax and using 70% of the revenues generated to upgrade America’s highway infrastructure, support low income communities and clean energy R&D. The bill would impose a 12-year moratorium on EPA’s Clean Air Act provided that Paris agreed to emission targets are met. Another key piece of carbon tax legislation has been proposed by Senator’s Whitehouse and Schatz. Their American Opportunity Carbon Fee Act calls for a $49 per ton fee, increasing annually with revenues used for corporate tax rate reduction, tax credits to workers and recipients of federal assistance, and state block grants.  

Membership in the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus continues to grow and now includes 84 House members. Eight state legislatures considered bills in 2017-2018, and Washington state voters will weigh in on a ballot initiative in November.  The Massachusetts legislature is moving forward with a carbon pricing bill.  Internationally, several dozen countries currently price carbon; while, further, several hundred companies around the world, including major oil and technology firms, now take a carbon price into account in their long-term business planning and investment decisions.

The following list of resources, follows the order of the Forum’s five panels.  We have added a final section on equity.