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#Carbon Series: Conservative Republicans Propose a Carbon Tax



Climate Change and Putting a Price on Carbon

In This Episode:

[01:10] Carbon series co-host Michael Green is introduced.

[01:40] Michael shares what he hopes to bring to this #carbon podcast series.

[02:22] Mike shares his excitement for sustainability and equity at the sub-national level.

[02:48] Michael tells about CABA’s (Climate Action Business Alliance) expansion efforts to help state-based networks.

[03:31] Mike mentions the list of diverse topics that he and Michael have come up with for this new series and introduces what today’s episode will be about.

[04:32] Michael conveys his thoughts regarding the Republican party’s view on climate change.

[05:01] Mike describes the carbon tax proposal.

[08:28] Catrina Rorke is introduced and talks about R Street.

[10:44] Catrina elaborates on carbon pricing.

[11:24] Michael agrees with carbon pricing and says that they will be talking about what to do with the revenue.

[11:49] Catrina answers the question of whether carbon pricing and the idea of putting a market signal on an externality is a conservative idea.

[13:06] Catrina speaks about the idea of a direct rebate to taxpayers.

[14:37] Catrina explains how the R Street approach would work and if it would be fair to those who are paying taxes.

[17:19] Catrina expresses her thoughts on putting a price on carbon.

[19:12] Catrina shares if climate change is a populist-enough issue for the Republican party.

[20:28] Catrina gives her insights of how effective a carbon tax would be.

[24:53] Catrina comments on the increase of the carbon tax and how to ensure an environmental outcome from a price signal.

[28:03] Michael discusses information on what he’s been following regarding sustainability, the future of climate change, and the outdoor-sports industry.

[30:22] Mike talks about an article he read about the Alberta tar sands and the Keystone XL pipeline.

[32:24] Michael provides information about his interest in the pipeline.

[32:54] Mike shares what he knows about ExxonMobil and supplies an issue with the tar sands.

[33:33] Michael mentions that Canada is going to be putting a price on carbon.


Catrina Rorke is senior fellow and energy policy director for the R Street Institute. She founded and leads the institute’s energy program, which works to clarify a well-defined and limited role for government in shaping decisions about infrastructure, wholesale and retail electricity, research and development, fuel choice and diversity, and climate adaptation and mitigation.

Follow Catrina on Twitter


The R Street Institute is a non-profit, non-partisan, public policy research organization (“think tank”). Our mission is to engage in policy research and outreach to promote free markets and limited, effective government.

Take Away Quotes:

“As an organization that’s dedicated to conservative free-market principles, the carbon tax sort of checked the boxes, and so R Street has long advocated for a revenue-neutral form of a carbon price, especially one that includes preemption for regulatory programs that currently try to price carbon into the market.”

“It’s certainly a conservative idea to use the lightest touch possible to correct a market failure. So, when you look at a role for government, as a conservative you don’t want government to expand beyond addressing substantive market failures, where the market isn’t addressing problems on its own. And climate change is a really perfect example of this. We know that there’s risk related to anthropogenic emissions, the market isn’t pricing that on its own, and so without the ability to enforce reductions to emissions, I guess through property rights…and then, that’s not working, so how do we address reducing emissions? There should be a role for telling the market that there’s this failure, and we’ve traditionally depended on government to fill that role. So I don’t want to say that a carbon tax is a conservative idea, but the idea of using a light touch to address externalities, that’s a conservative idea, and that’s what leads us to a carbon tax.”

“One of the main obstacles to getting the carbon price internalized in the market is that it’s affecting every corner of the economy, right? So nearly every industry is in some way going to be impacted if we start pricing emissions, and because that’s the case, we’re going to see economic contraction. What we want to do is use the revenue that we collect to solve that contraction, and we think we can do it by dedicating all of the revenue to the most distorting taxes that we currently have on the books, and those are taxes to capital. So while a Baker-Shultz proposal is suggesting a dividend, R Street doesn’t think that that’s the most conservative idea. In fact, we think it leaves out sort of the crucial part of this situation which is that you don’t want addressing climate change to damage the economy. You want addressing climate change to lead to a more productive economy.”

“Climate change, also, is this funny problem that just makes all of the existing problems we can measure today worse. So climate change leads to water insecurity, which we already document; it leads to trouble accessing sanitation services, which we already document; it expands the range of disease, which we’re already having trouble addressing.”


R Street

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