Feb 13, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Senators huddle over dinner with carbon-tax backers

Sen. Mike Braun. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Stringer/Getty Images

Nearly two dozen proponents of a carbon tax across the corporate, economic and advocacy spectrum pitched their climate plan to a bipartisan group of senators over dinner this week.

Why it matters: It's a concrete sign of the growing pressure facing lawmakers to pass big policy on climate change, even though the chances of that happening any time soon remain slim.

The intrigue: Senior officials from almost every entity that's part of the Climate Leadership Council were present at the dinner, which included nine senators from both parties and those who are members of the newly formed Climate Solutions Caucus.

Where it stands: The plan the backers are pitching is a $40-a-ton carbon tax that gradually rises and from which proceeds are refunded to consumers. The coalition was launched in early 2017 by former Republican leaders, including two former secretaries of state, James Baker and George Shultz.

  • The proposal is being pushed by a coalition of strange bedfellows that includes corporations, environmental groups, former Republican politicians and economists.
  • Since its launch, the effort has gained impressive support from big oil companies and environmental groups, but it hasn't found much Republican backing in Congress.

What they're saying: In a joint statement after the dinner, Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.), didn't say they supported (or opposed) the policy, and instead said they're in the process of hearing from various interests about what to do about climate change. The bipartisan pair founded the Senate caucus on the topic.

Driving the news: The council is also announcing new developments on Thursday, including:

  • New members, such as JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs.
  • New details, including the plan would seek to work with states that already have climate policies, like California, to ensure the state policies are harmonious with federal measures.

Go deeper: As Congress mulls climate policy, carbon tax getting no love

Go deeper

As Congress talks climate policy, carbon price gets no love

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

New lobbying urging Congress to support a price on carbon emissions is not convincing lawmakers to warm up to the policy.

Why it matters: A carbon price is widely considered one of the most economically efficient ways to tackle climate change. But, economics be damned, its politics remain deeply unpopular.

Where top 2020 candidates stand on climate policy and the Green New Deal

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) at a rally May 13. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Green New Deal resolution, introduced in February by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), has helped cement climate change as a real topic in the 2020 presidential race.

What's happening: More Democratic candidates have pitched climate change policy that goes beyond the Green New Deal, largely to prepare for events like CNN's "climate crisis" town hall. The GND — which is more of a call to arms than a strict policy proposal — outlines a 10-year mobilization plan to move the country toward a 100% carbon-free power system and a decarbonized economy.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Feb 5, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Iowa caucusgoers view climate change as key issue

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Ahead of the Iowa caucus on Monday, polling showed "about four in 10 ranked health care as the most important issue facing the country, while three in 10 identified climate change as the top," AP reports.

The state of play: That's one of the results from polling conducted for several days before the event for AP and Fox News by a University of Chicago research group.