International Carbon Pricing Leadership Paves Way for U.S. Action

Olivia is a rising Junior at University of Maryland, College Park. She is studying Economics with minors in Business and Sustainability. During the summer she is working with Chesapeake Climate Action Network on their carbon fee and rebate campaign in Washington, DC. It is a great way to follow Our Climate's mission of young engagement in to the carbon pricing movement while lobbying and canvassing in DC. 

Following the Paris Accord, many world leaders have spoken up about the importance of reducing carbon emissions. With the goal to reduce the world's temperature by two degrees celsius, 195 countries are investigating various policies to help the environment. Several countries, including Germany, China, Chile, and Ethiopia, are among those who are supporting carbon pricing as a way to reach this goal. Chilean President, Michelle Bachelet, explained her reasoning, saying, “In Chile we believe in the polluter pays principle. We have enacted environmental taxes on our transportation and power sector. Both taxes will be instrumental in cleaner power, and more efficient cars, which will make our air cleaner, and our climate safer. And the revenue goes to fund our educational reform.” Bachelet says it best, “the revenue not only deals with environmental externalities, but it funds well deserving programs too.”


Kuykendall spent her summer working on the Price It DC campaign.

She is not the only leader who has spoken up about carbon pricing either. The United States finds itself sandwiched between two countries with carbon pricing support. Both Mexican President, Enrique Peña Nieto, and Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau have spoken up about nation-wide carbon pricing. President Nieto said, “The challenge of climate change compels us to rethink and transform the way we produce and consume. The international community must advance towards a low-carbon economy, by setting a price on carbon. In keeping with this goal, Mexico has strengthened its national policy towards green growth.” The question now is whether the United States will be a lone standing, polluting nation or if we will join our colleagues in pricing carbon.

While it may seem bleak, there is bipartisan support within our nation for carbon pricing. Earlier this year, Republican politicians formed a Climate Leadership Council and spoke with the administration about a $40 per ton carbon tax. Gregory Mankiw, Republican and former Chair of the President’s Council of Economic Affairs, explained the economic function of the tax as what some call a sin tax, “You want to tax activities that have negative effects on other people in society. We raise the price of cigarettes by putting a tax on cigarettes, people then consume fewer cigarettes.”  Despite being a step forward in the name of bipartisanship, the Climate Leadership Council proposal was in in exchange for other environmental regulations. No legislation has formed from the administrative meeting, but republican support for carbon pricing will help push forward communication. James Baker, Republican and former Secretary of State, and Democrat Senator Brian Schatz agree. Schatz emphasizes, “If we are going to combat climate change and create a safe future for our children, we need bipartisan leadership, and so far Republicans are refusing to step up to the plate.” Baker supports this by saying, “It’s really important the we Republicans have a seat at the table when people start talking about climate change.”


Having a bipartisan way to discuss solutions is the only way we can reach our goal of a healthier and cleaner Earth. The only way representatives will join this force is if their constituents want them to. "Representatives will act on climate if their constituents want them to.  E-mails, phone calls, or meetings can push them to support bipartisan carbon pricing policy, With both international and United States leaders taking a stand on carbon pricing, it's time that we take action to #PutAPriceOnIt.


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