A Climate Resolution The Right Can Get Behind

By Morgan Phillips on March 23, 2018

February 26, 2015: The day Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) walked onto the floor of Congress, snowball in hand to demonstrate that because he was not able to make a snowball, climate change must not be real.

“It’s really cold outside; they are calling it a major freeze, weeks ahead of normal. Man, we could use a big fat dose of global warming!” Trump tweeted around the same time of that year.

Can you be a Republican and love the planet? The college-age generation of the GOP is starting to think so. For the first time ever, College Republicans are publicly supporting a national bipartisan climate solution.

“Preservation of our environment is not a liberal or conservative challenge, it’s common sense,” President Reagan once foretold, a message that soon got lost in the mix of today’s partisan gridlock. And the GOP is certainly paying the price: 23 percent of millennial who were conservatives two years ago have since switched to the Democratic party, according to a report by Pew Research Center.

“As young people with many decades of life ahead, millennials have a real interest in seeing the issue of climate change resolved, maybe more so than older policy makers think,” said Students For Carbon Dividends President Alexander Posner.

This year 23 college Republican groups have partnered with six college Democrat groups to propose a bipartisan solution to climate change. They want to send a message to older conservative policy makers that their rejection of climate change does not represent the views of the new generation of the GOP through their organization, Students For Carbon Dividends.

Together with the Climate Leadership Council, they have launched a carbon dividends plan, the Baker-Shultz plan, that is both populist and progressive; it would place a carbon tax of $40/ton of CO2 emitted on oil that they claim most families would get back in excess in the form of a flat-rate rebate at the end of each month.

“Our plan would achieve nearly twice the emissions reductions of all Obama-era climate regulations combined, and nearly three times the new baseline after President Trump repeals all of those regulations,” Ted Halstead assured the crowd in his TED Talk on the matter, “A Climate Solution Where All Sides Can Win.”

Furthermore, the plan intends to enact border adjustments to increase the cost of goods from other nations which did not enact a carbon tax to prevent “free-rider” nations from gaining a price advantage over domestic goods, thus incentivising other nations to enact a carbon dividends plan as well.

“The implementation of border carbon adjustments (BCAs), is what sets in motion what the plan’s authors call the ‘climate domino effect,’ which serves to maintain American competitiveness and encourage the adoption of similar policy initiatives internationally,” S4CD Vice-President Kiera O’Brien explained in an email.

Released in February of last year, the Baker-Shultz plan is not yet up for impending vote due to the unprecedented nature of its arrangement. This is where S4CD comes into play: “Currently our coalition spans nearly coast to coast and we intend to continue adding new organizations and growing our movement,” says O’Brien. “As a group we plan on hosting educational events on more campuses nationwide, and to continue to agitate for the national adoption of the Baker-Schultz plan.”

The movement has already attracted the support of corporations including BP, Exxon Mobil, Shell and GM, organizations whose livelihood currently depends on fossil fuels. Their endorsements seem to divulge that big energy is open to the idea of alternative resources, but sees no incentive to do so until the costs are competitive with non-renewables. “Shell has long called for a robust and transparent price on CO2 emissions,” says Ben van Beurden, Chief Executive Officer, in his statement of support. “Designed well, a price mechanism would accelerate the transition to cleaner energy and drive innovation – allowing society to meet the climate challenge without sacrificing economic growth or quality of life.”

It remains to be seen how many policy makers will take heed of the proposition. “So far the vast majority of responses I’ve personally received have been positive!” says O’Brien. “Even in speaking about the policy with people who disagree with me on the issue, the response has generally been in favor of the bipartisan nature of the plan and of the rejection of inaction as an option.”

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