On February 26, 2015, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) walked onto the floor of Congress with a snowball in hand to demonstrate that because he was not able to make a snowball, climate change must not be real.
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 noted, a message that soon got lost in the mix of today’s partisan gridlock. The GOP is certainly paying the price—23% of millennials 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.”
Discouraged by lack of Congressional action, young Republican college groups have come up with own proposed climate change legislation. More than 20 college Republican groups have partnered with six college Democrat groups to promote their advocacy group, Students For Carbon Dividends (S4CD).
Together with the Climate Leadership Council, they have launched the Baker-Shultz plan, which is both populist and progressive; it would place a carbon tax of $40/ton of CO2 emitted on oil, which would raise gas prices around $0.40 per gallon. They would offer a rebate on the tax to families at the end of each month, adding up to around $2,000/ per household.
Ted Halstead, who gave a TED talk on the plan “All Sides Can Win,” claims that the proposal will boast twice the emissions reductions of Obama-era regulations and three times that off Trump-era regulations rollbacks.
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, and thus incentivising other nations to enact a carbon dividends plan as well.
Released in February of last year, the Baker-Shultz plan is remains in political limbo. So college political groups are taking it upon themselves to generate awareness for the proposal.
It remains to be seen how many policy makers will take heed of the proposition. Last month, a group of senior Republican policy officials met with the White House to discuss the plan, but when asked about the details of the meeting, Chief of Staff Sean Spicer refused to comment. “On an issue that has been politically polarized for decades, we are now seeing a consensus breakthrough,” says S4CD President Alexander Posner said. He explained that some on the left are wary of anything backed by fossil fuel interests. Some on the right are hesitant about any sort of tax increase. “Through a frank discussion among policy officials, we can eventually get this plan to work for everyone. Our goal right now is just to get people talking about it.”
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