In Washington, the immaculate solution to climate change has a name: a bipartisan, revenue-neutral carbon tax.
The idea should have wide appeal. Under the plan, the government would charge companies for every ton of greenhouse gas they emit. Instead of spending that money, the government would immediately send it back to Americans as a tax cut or check. Over time, Americans would make greener choices (a win for Democrats) without growing the size of the government (a win for Republicans). And so climate change would slow (a win for everyone).
The research is promising. Last week, a study from economists at Columbia University found that the tax plan with the most support in Congress would slash American carbon pollution by almost 40 percent within a decade. It would outperform any Obama-era climate policy and go well beyond the United States’ 2015 commitment under the Paris Agreement.
There’s only one hitch: the politics. There is a popular, revenue-neutral carbon-tax bill in Congress, but it is only “bipartisan” on a technicality. Dozens of Democrats support the plan. Its sole GOP backer is planning to leave politics.
That bill is the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (EICDA), the subject of the recent Columbia analysis. Of its 71 co-sponsors, 70 are Democrats. Representative Francis Rooney of Florida, its only Republican co-sponsor, said in October that he would retire from Congress after the current term. His announcement came several days after he refused to rule out voting to impeach President Donald Trump. (He says the two events are unrelated.)