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Carlos Curbelo. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Carlos Curbelo, the Republican who lost his reelection bid in a highly contested Florida House district last November, is doubling down on his energy and climate change focus with a new fellowship at Columbia University’s energy think tank.

Why he matters: During his four years in Congress, Curbelo was an important outlier in the Republican Party. He created a bipartisan House caucus on climate change and last summer introduced legislation taxing carbon emissions, the first such move by a Republican in a decade.

Details: Curbelo will be a distinguished visiting fellow at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

  • The center, founded by Jason Bordoff, a former top energy advisor to then-President Obama, has ramped up its work on carbon tax policy over the last year, issuing a series of papers on the topic. The group facilitated the event where Curbelo introduced his legislation last summer.
  • The center includes several other fellows, several from the Obama administration but also at least one former Trump adviser: George David Banks, who advised Trump on global energy and climate issues.

The big picture: Congress is unlikely to seriously consider a carbon tax any time soon, given the GOP’s near universal opposition to the idea and Trump’s dismissal of climate change generally. The goal of think tanks like this one is to conduct research that could feed any legislation if/when Congress comes around to the idea politically.

One level deeper: There are 2 broad schools of thought about how to legislate: compromise to find bipartisan solutions or pursue more aggressive policies that don’t have bipartisan support. Curbelo is in the former camp, while the new Congress — girding for a fierce presidential election — is more in the latter. Curbelo hopes to teach students about what he considers to be the need for compromise, the former congressman told me last week.

“A lot of young people think that the answer is to push back harder against the other side regardless of which side they’re on. The real antidote to the social decay we’re witnessing to our country and dysfunctioning policies is to actually compromise, to dialogue, to negotiate. I want to focus, at Columbia, specifically on this major challenge we face as a country and where the viable solutions are. I know that it isn’t at either extreme.”
— Carlos Curbelo

What’s next: Curbelo will have more fellowships related to energy and climate change and will reopen a media and public affairs practice he had in Miami prior to his time in Congress. He’s also going to dive back into politics, sometime. “There will definitely be another political chapter in my life,” Curbelo said. “I have little doubt about that.” He’s not sure when or how exactly yet though.

Go deeper

Scoop: Trump-backed Perdue says he wouldn’t have certified Georgia 2020 results

Perdue at a December 2020 campaign event in Columbus, Ga. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Georgia gubernatorial candidate David Perdue wouldn’t have signed the certification of the state’s 2020 election results if he had been governor at the time, the former Senate Republican told Axios.

  • “Not with the information that was available at the time and not with the information that has come out now. They had plenty of time to investigate this. And I wouldn’t have signed it until those things had been investigated and that’s all we were asking for," he said.

Why it matters: There has been no evidence widespread fraud took place in Georgia's elections last year and the November results were counted three times, once by hand.

Beijing Olympics: These countries have announced diplomatic boycotts

Photo: Zhang Qiang/VCG via Getty Images

Several countries, including Canada and Australia, have announced they will join the U.S. in a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics to protest human rights abuses committed by China's government.

Driving the news: Leaders have faced pressure from human rights groups and others to boycott the Games, pointing to the ongoing genocide of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in China's Xinjiang region and other abuses.

Biden directs federal government to become carbon neutral by 2050

President Biden speaking to reporters outside of the White House on Dec. 8.

President Biden signed an executive order Wednesday that requires the federal government achieve multiple goals related to reducing its carbon emissions, including achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

Why it matters: Meeting the objectives of the order would require a massive investment by the federal government to buy electric vehicles, upgrade buildings and change how it procures electricity.

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