Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

New details are emerging about a low-profile carbon tax campaign whose backers are confident will prevail in a climate debate defined by heated Democratic rhetoric and a lack of apparent interest by most Republicans.

Driving the news: U.S. carbon dioxide emissions would be cut in half by 2035 under a $40-a-ton carbon tax that increases 5% above inflation annually, according to a new goal in the plan. The proposal is being pushed by a coalition of strange bedfellows that includes corporations, environmental groups, former Republican politicians and economists.

Where it stands: The group, the Climate Leadership Council (CLC), is pushing a carbon tax whose proceeds will be refunded back to consumers. CLC was launched in early 2017 by former Republican leaders, including two former secretaries of states, James Baker and George Shultz.

  • Since then, the effort has gained impressive support from big oil companies and environmental groups, but it hasn’t found much Republican support in Congress.
  • Although Republicans are increasingly acknowledging climate change is a problem, few are on board with sweeping new policy, which this would be.

What’s new: The group has added two new corporate members — mining giant BHP Billiton and electricity provider Calpine — and plans to release a detailed legislative proposal.

  • The goal of halving U.S. CO2 emissions by 2035 is new, as is the 5% annual increase to the proposed carbon tax. This is far more ambitious than President Obama’s commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement, but less aggressive than what most Democrats are calling for now.
  • The plan specifies that it would displace or preempt all federal regulations for stationary sources of CO2. This includes things like power plants, but excludes cars and trucks. It looks like an attempt at compromise in what is sure to be a dicey debate.
  • The plan also removes any mention of shielding companies from lawsuits alleging responsibility for damages connected to historical emissions. Removing the liability line could be significant because many see it as a must-have for big oil companies facing such lawsuits, though a similar proposal can always be added in the actual legislative process.

What’s next: Expect more news from the group in about a month, including more members, new financial commitments to its lobbying arm and a six-figure advertising campaign in DC, according to CEO Ted Halstead.

  • Halstead says the plan will be introduced in a bipartisan manner, ideally in both chambers of Congress, by year’s end.

Editor's note: This piece corrected the spelling of George Shultz.

Go deeper

Deadly storm Zeta pummels parts of Alabama and Florida

A satellite image of Hurricane Zeta. Photo: National Hurricane Center/NOAA

Former Hurricane Zeta has killed at least one person after a downed power line electrocuted a 55-year-old in Louisiana as the storm's powerful winds and heavy rainfall moved into Alabama overnight.

What's happening: After "battering southeastern Louisiana and southern Mississippi," Zeta weakened to a tropical storm over central Alabama early on Thursday, per the National Hurricane Center.

Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases

Catholics go through containment protocols including body-temperature measurement and hands-sanitisation before entering the Saint Christopher Parish Church, Taipei City, Taiwan, in July. Photo: Ceng Shou Yi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Taiwan on Thursday marked no locally transmitted coronavirus cases for 200 days, as the island of 23 million people's total number of infections reported stands at 550 and the COVID-19 death toll at seven.

Why it matters: Nowhere else in the world has reached such a milestone. While COVID-19 cases surge across the U.S. and Europe, Taiwan's last locally transmitted case was on April 12. Experts credit tightly regulated travel, early border closure, "rigorous contact tracing, technology-enforced quarantine and universal mask wearing," along with the island state's previous experience with the SARS virus, per Bloomberg.

Go deeper: As Taiwan's profile rises, so does risk of conflict with China

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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