Climate change poses a threat to the safety and prosperity of America’s and the world’s citizens. Every major scientific academy agrees that global warming is real, is mostly caused by humans, and requires urgent action. The signs of climate change are all around us. For example, the volume of the summer Arctic sea ice has dropped about 70% in the past 30 years and global temperatures have set records for the past 3 years in a row. And while most world leaders and climate scientists agree that we should not let the world warm more than +2ºC, we are on track to exceed that around mid-century. There is a high level of scientific certainty that the main cause of global warming is the release of greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels. Manmade CO2 accumulates in the atmosphere for hundreds to thousands of years and its warming and sea level impacts last even longer.
Sir Nicholas Stern said that fossil fuel companies’ ability to release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere for free “is the greatest market failure the world has ever seen.” While scientists have been calling for a reduction in fossil fuels usage for over 30 years, emissions have dramatically increased in that period. There have been some attempts to put carbon pricing policies and regulations in place, such as Cap and Trade schemes in Europe and California, but these policies have not led to significant emissions reductions.
Now, The Climate Leadership Council (“CLC”), a group of prominent conservative statesmen, are calling for the implementation of a Carbon Dividends Plan (“CDP”), which is also known as a Fee and Dividend policy. Under CDP, a steadily rising fee is levied on the CO2 content of fossil fuels and is paid by the fossil fuel companies at the mine, well, or port of entry. One-hundred percent of collected fees are equally distributed to every legal resident. To protect American businesses and encourage other countries to get on board, a border duty (tariff) will be put on products coming from countries without their own carbon pricing policy. The CLC calls for the Carbon Dividends Plan to replace other carbon regulations such as the Clean Power Plan. A study by Regional Economic Models Inc. (REMI) commissioned by Citizens Climate Lobby, concluded that a U.S. CDP policy would, over 20 years, create 2.8 million jobs, increase GDP by $1.4 trillion, while reducing CO2 emissions by over 50%.