Sian Crampsie

A broad coalition of industrial firms, opinion leaders and environmental organisations has launched a new initiative that proposes the implementation of a market-based solution to tackling climate change.

The Climate Leadership Council (CLC) counts companies such as BP, ExxonMobil, Total and Schneider Electric, and leaders such as Michael Bloomberg, Steven Chu and Stephen Hawking among its founding members. It says that its proposed “pro-growth and pro-environment” climate solution will pave the way for a much-needed bipartisan climate breakthrough.

The launch of the initiative comes just weeks after the announcement by US President Donald Trump that he would withdraw the USA from the Paris Climate Accord. CLC says that its climate plan, which includes a gradually rising carbon tax, would enable the USA to meet its Paris commitments while maintaining conservative principles of free markets and limited government.

“The Council’s carbon dividends plan can bridge partisan divides, strengthen our economy and protect our shared environment, while making 223 million Americans financially better off,” said Ted Halstead, Chairman and CEO of the Climate Leadership Council. “We could not be more pleased to welcome such a distinguished and diverse group of Founding Members to help us develop this consensus climate solution based on carbon dividends.”

The plan has been authored by Republicans James Baker and George Shultz, and calls for a carbon tax whose revenues are rebated to all Americans in the form of monthly dividend payments. It also calls for the rollback of carbon regulations that are no longer necessary upon the enactment of a significant carbon tax, as well as a system of border carbon adjustments to level the playing field and promote US competitiveness.

The bottom 70 per cent of households would be economically better off under the plan, says CLC. It also says that a carbon tax starting at $40 per ton would achieve nearly twice the emissions reductions of all Obama-era climate regulations combined.

Other founding members include Conservation International, General Motors, PepsiCo and Unilever.