The Forum on September 13th

The Forum is an official affiliate event of the Global Climate Action Summit to discuss the merits of various U.S. based (federal and state) carbon tax proposals (revenue neutral and revenue positive) now being considered, better define the principles that underlie these proposals and build greater political support.

“A tax on carbon emissions will unleash a wave of innovation to develop technologies, lower the costs of clean energy and create jobs as we and other nations develop new energy products and infrastructure”
-Henry M. Paulson (Treasury Secretary under President George W. Bush)

With the risks of climate change mounting, the need for comprehensive action to cut carbon pollution in the United States is urgent. An economy-wide carbon tax will send a clear market signal and account for the externalities and risks that fossil fuels pose to our economy. A carbon tax will also reduce business uncertainty and create new investment opportunities in clean energy and green infrastructure and possibly lead to a simpler regulatory system. Such a tax needs be designed in a way that accounts for economic and equity concerns and supports a just transition for communities disproportionately impacted by pollution.

SCHEDULE

1:00 to 1:30 pm:  Registration (Gap, Inc. corporate headquarters, 2 Folsom Street, San Francisco)

1:30 to 2:10 pm:   Carbon Pricing 101 – How a Tax Would Work & What to do with the Revenues

As with any tax, behaviors are bound to change.  Research has shown a carbon price is the most efficient and effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Placing a tax on carbon gives consumers and producers a monetary incentive to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions.

And, while there are key differences about how to spend the revenue generated, how to ensure that American exporters and low income and fossil fuel dependent communities are not hurt, and at what level to set the price, many conservatives and progressives agree a carbon tax addresses the market’s failure to account for the true costs of carbon pollution. That means government has a role to play.

  • Helen Mountford, Director of Economics, World Resources Institute
  • Steve Hams, Citizens Climate Lobby
  • Greg Bertelsen, Vice President Climate Leadership Council
  • Richard Eidlin, Future 500:  Moderator

2:15 to 3:00 pm:  The Business Case for Pricing Carbon

Carbon pricing is already becoming deeply embedded in business strategy.  A growing number of companies - Microsoft, Biogen and ExxonMobil – have adopted internal carbon pricing to adjust for risks due to climate change.  Businesses understand that their future stock valuations are at risk due to the effects of climate change, and that transitioning to cleaner energy and greener procurement practices are good for the bottom line.

  • David Brown, Senior Vice President, Exelon
  • Bill Shireman, President and CEO, Future 500
  • Mary Ellen Mika, Director, Global Compliance and Sustainability, Steelcase
  • SUNCOR (invited)

3:00 – 3:15 pm:  Break

3:15 – 3:55 pm:  The National Political Landscape

The path forward at the federal level remains challenging. While several pieces of carbon tax legislation have been introduced in Congress over the past two years, the effort has been led exclusively by Democrats. A potential opportunity for bipartisan action rests with the Climate Solutions Caucus, whose membership is at a time high of 84.  Yet, no Republican member has expressed any public support to date for carbon tax or fee-and-dividend legislation. This panel will focus on the potential for conservative support in the current political climate.

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  • Mark Reynolds, Executive Director, Citizens Climate Lobby
  • George Frampton, Co-Founder, Partnership for Responsible Growth
  • U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (participating by video)
  • U.S. Congressman Carlos Curbelo (invited)
  • U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (invited)

4:00 – 4:45 pm:  Action at the State Level

Over a dozen states are actively considering adopting some form of carbon pricing. While the specifics vary (e.g., what figure should the tax be should be set, how fast will it increase, how the revenues will be used, how low-income residents will be protected and how to address concerns over cross border competitiveness with states that do not have a tax), there is clear momentum at the state level.

  • Marc Breslow, Policy & Research Director, Climate XChange
  • Camila Thorndike, Director, Carbon Pricing Campaign Washington, D.C.
  • Michelle Romero, Deputy Director, Green For All
  • Mike Barrett, State Senator, Massachusetts
  • Mo McBroom, Director of Government Relations, Nature Conservancy and Advocate for WA State I-1631 Ballot Initiative
  • State Legislator, Maryland (invited)

4:50 – 5:30 pm:  Mobilizing to Support a Price on Carbon & Final Thoughts

Enacting a price on carbon will take a broad coalition of interests.  Conservatives and progressives need to work together and be willing to compromise. The business community has a critical role to play, as do millennials and environmental and social justice organizations. Success will most likely necessitate not having the ‘perfect be the enemy of the good’.  Our panel offers insights into theories of change, successful organizing approaches and opportunities for collaboration.

  • David Levine, CEO, American Sustainable Business Council
  • Harold Hedelman, Business Climate Lobby
  • Kiera O'Brien, Vice President, Students for Carbon Dividends
  • Michael Green, Executive Director, Climate Action Business Association - Moderator

5:30 – 7:00 pm:  Reception with hors d'oeuvres and open bar


Speaker Bios

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MIKE BARRETT is a State Senator for nine Massachusetts communities.  He serves as Senate Chair of the Legislature’s Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, whose jurisdiction covers everything from cell phones to alternative energy to public utility reform to carbon pricing.  He previously served as Chair of the Senate Post-Audit and Oversight Committee, a unique body charged with overseeing implementation of all state programs run by the Governor and his appointees.  Previously, Mike made his living in health care and information technology.


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GREG BERTELSON is Senior Vice President with the Climate Leadership Council.  He oversees outreach to business constituencies, is responsible for some of the Council’s congressional engagement, and contributes to policy research and development.  Prior to joining the Climate Leadership Council, Greg served as Senior Director, Energy and Resources Policy at the National Association of Manufacturers.  He has worked with congressmen, high-ranking administration officials, and has served as an official advisor to the Environmental Protection Agency on environmental justice issues.  Previously, Greg served as Manager and Regulatory Analyst, Environmental Markets & Policy at Siemens AG.


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MARC BRESLOW is the Policy and Research Director for Climate XChange.  He has an extensive background developing policies to cut greenhouse gas emissions, focusing in recent years on carbon pollution pricing. Breslow has conducted studies forecasting the impacts of such pricing on households, industries, and GHG emissions, and has designed legislation to implement it for several states.  Over 2005 to 2007, he was deeply involved in the development of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.  Breslow formerly held two positions in Massachusetts state government: Director of Transportation & Buildings Policy with the Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs, and Director of the Electric Power Division of the Department of Public Utilities.   In 2010, he had a leading role in developing and writing the state’s Clean Energy and Climate Plan for 2020.  Before joining state government, Breslow was the founding Executive Director of the Massachusetts Climate Action Network.  He has a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.


RICHARD EIDLIN has worked at the intersection of business & public policy for 35 years. He has a played a key role in building the responsible and progressive business movement in America. He has championed the idea of the triple bottom line and corporate social responsibility.  Richard is a co-founder of the American Sustainable Business Council and was Vice President for Policy & Campaigns, working on Capitol Hill, for the White House, federal agencies and state legislatures.  He attended the U.N. Climate Summit in Paris in 2015 and organized a clean energy program for the ‘eco-right’ at the 2016 Republican convention.  From 1990 to 1994, Richard consulted to the U.N. Environment Programme and helped launch the U.N. Environmental Finance Initiative and the International Council of Environmental Initiatives.  Richard worked in the solar energy industry from 1995-2005, advocating for legislative and regulatory changes and directing business development. He consulted for and directed training seminars for Boston College’s Center for Corporate Citizenship and worked as a senior policy analyst for the New York City government.


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MICHAEL GREEN is the Executive Director of the Climate Action Business Association, an award-winning advocate for climate policy and environmental action.  Since 2012, he has served as a representative to the United Nations focusing on international climate science and policy.  Recognized as a ‘Champion of Change’ by President Obama in 2016, Michael was honored for his focus on climate change as an equity issue.  He has played strategic roles in several of the national and global campaigns dedicated to fighting climate change.


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STEVE HAMS is Co-Director of Engagement at Business Climate Leaders.  After 30 years of executive human resources and general management experience in high tech, medical technology, education, sports and nonprofit fields, Steve has consulted and volunteered for the last seven years in the areas of climate change and education.  He now spends the majority of his professional time and energy volunteering with Citizens' Climate Lobby, both as a co-chapter lead for Silicon Valley North and as Engagement Director for our Business Climate Leaders action team. 


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HAROLD HEDELMAN is a Founder and co-Director of Engagement of Business Climate Leaders.  In the '80s, Harold followed graduate school at Cornell with a stint programming early computer games.  He soon began following entrepreneurial instincts and started and ran a nonprofit school to educate artists and designers about the exploding worlds of computer animation, desktop publishing and the Internet.   In the new century, Harold turned his attention to spiritual and environmental fundraising and program development.  Most recently, he designed and ran a pilot program for the Natural Resources Defense Council, testing whether their membership in six Midwestern states could effectively support the Clean Power Plan using the grassroots organizing methods of Citizens' Climate Lobby. 


DAVID LEVINE is the CEO and Co-founder of the American Sustainable Business Council.  He has worked as a social entrepreneur for over 30 years focusing on the development of whole systems solutions for a more sustainable society through building strategic partnerships and broad stakeholder initiatives.  Previously, he was the Founding Director of Continuing Education & Public Programs at The Graduate Center, City University of New York.  From 1984 to 1997, David was Founder and executive director of the Learning Alliance, an independent popular education organization.

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HELEN MOUNTFORD is the Director of Economics at the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the Program Director for the New Climate Economy initiative (NCE).  The NCE is an international initiative that provides independent and authoritative evidence on the relationship between economic performance and reducing the risk of dangerous climate change.  At WRI, she leads a team of economists to tackle major global challenges and in support of its international offices.  Previously, Helen was Deputy Director of Environment at the OECD, having worked in the institution for over 16 years.


KIERA O’BRIEN is the Vice President of Students for Carbon Dividends, a student-led movement that aims to catapult a free market climate solution—specifically the Baker-Shultz Carbon Dividends plan—into the national spotlight and open the door to bipartisan climate action.  Kiera is a Class of 2020 student at Harvard University, studying Government.  She is a member of the Harvard Political Review and the Harvard Political Union and serves as President of the Harvard Republican Club.


MARK REYNOLDS is Executive Director of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby. During his years as a private sector trainer and consultant, Mark worked to maximize personal and organizational effectiveness in a variety of fields.  Today, he uses those skills to empower ordinary citizens to educate influential stakeholders about the benefits of national climate solutions.  He oversees a training curriculum that reaches tens of thousands of supporters every year, has been a frequent guest on TV and radio shows, and has written op-eds on climate solutions for 85 print journals.


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MICHELLE ROMERO is the Deputy Director of Green For All.  She is a campaign and communications strategist, with a decade of experience working to expand educational and economic opportunities for people of color.  She engineers national campaigns and fosters strategic partnerships and leads her team to advance inclusive green economy solutions that bring clean energy and jobs to underserved communities.  Under her leadership, Green For All has been a leading voice against efforts to dismantle climate and clean energy progress, and is working to shift billions of dollars from polluter pockets to polluted communities through carbon pricing and inclusive financing strategies


SENATOR BRIAN SCHATZ is Hawai‘i’s senior United States Senator.  He serves on four Senate Committees: Appropriations; Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs; Commerce, Science, and Transportation; and Indian Affairs.  Senator Schatz is a leader in the US Senate on clean energy and co-author of the American Opportunity Carbon Fee Act, introduced in 2017.  Prior to being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2012, Brian was Lieutenant Governor of Hawai‘I and led the State’s clean energy efforts.  From 1998 to 2006, he was a member of the State House of Representatives. 


Camila Thorndike, originally from Oregon, is a lifelong activist with a passion for climate protection. In DC, she serves at the DC Campaign Director for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN), spearheading an 85-member coalition for carbon pricing and other strong climate policies. She is the co-founder of Our Climate and the national Put a Price on It campaign. After graduating from Whitman College in Washington State, Camila worked for the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution; led outreach for an Arizonan urban planning campaign; and spearheaded engagement for ‘COAL’, a musical theater project on fossil fuels. She's also worked with DC youth on energy efficiency in low-income households, as part of the Mayor’s Green Summer Jobs Program. Camila is a member of the Young Climate Leaders Network, and recipient of the DC Environmental Network 2018 Award.


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ELIZABETH WILLMOTT leads Microsoft’s carbon program, including operational commitments to carbon neutrality and technology partnerships to support monitoring and management of carbon emissions and climate change impacts.  She previously worked at Climate Solutions in Seattle as program manager for the New Energy Cities initiative, working with municipalities to help them meet their carbon reduction goals through innovative programs and policies.