Linnabary: Utah Leaders Should Embrace The Baker-Shultz Plan

The Sixth Assessment Report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, has released its sixth series of reports on the climate crisis. The Guardian said the report “is the starkest warning yet” of “major inevitable and irreversible climate changes.”

The lengthy report can be shortened to the message: If we do not reduce greenhouse gas emissions quickly, we will see a dramatic rise in the global average temperature. This rise in global average temperature will permanently change our climate and planet.

Here in Utah, we have seen the damaging effects of climate change. Utah has seen an average rise of two degrees Fahrenheit. Part of this dramatic rise in temperatures is the increase in droughts and wildfires. Air quality due to wildfire smoke has also impacted human health in the Salt Lake City area. It is for these reasons and more that we need action on the issue of climate change.

Inaction is not an option, and it is time for Utah’s leaders to call for action on the national level. However, today, much of the climate action conversation is dominated by those who push for infeasible and unrealistic solutions like the Green New Deal. Proposals such as these do more to reshape our society and economy than fight climate change.

Furthermore, beyond the Green New Deal’s glaring infeasibility, it is stuck in political gridlock as its initial adoption failed. That is why a plan like the Baker-Shultz Carbon Dividend Plan is the best plan for fighting climate change. Furthermore, Utah’s leaders should embrace the Baker-Shultz Carbon Dividend Plan and push for it as our climate remedy.

As former Republican President Ronald Reagan said, “Preservation of our environment is not a liberal or conservative challenge; it is common sense.”

Reagan administration officials James Baker and George Shultz took that message to heart and broke from the majority of the GOP in pursuing solutions to climate change. The result was the Baker-Shultz plan, an ambitious plan for curbing CO2 emissions, the main contributor to climate change.

The Baker-Shultz Plan would place an economy-wide $40 per ton fee on CO2 emissions, increasing 5% above inflation every year. As the cost grows, the price of polluting does too, which incentivizes the development, creation and implementation of CO2-neutral technologies.

It has been proven that a carbon fee like the one the Baker-Shultz plan proposes is the most effective way to incentivize the creation of climate action technology while growing our economy.

What differentiates the Baker-Shultz Plan from other CO2 pricing plans is that it returns the revenue from the fee on carbon to individual citizens in the form of direct payments.

For example, in the first year, a family of four would receive approximately $2,000 in carbon dividend payments, and as the fee on CO2 emissions grow, so do these payments.

George Behrakis, President of Young Conservatives for Carbon Dividends (YCCD), an organization advocating for the implantation of the Baker-Shultz Plan, says, “the dividend component is key to make sure that Americans are benefiting financially from solving climate change.”

Another key component of the Baker-Shultz plan is its border carbon adjustment, which George Behrakis has described as “a key pillar of our plan.” The border CO2 adjustment places a tax on imported goods from less carbon-efficient countries based on the carbon emissions caused by the production of the goods. According to George Behrakis, this would “put America in the driver’s seat of global climate policy.”

Carbon pricing as a general policy measure is bipartisan and can make it through Congress with enough lobbying. Citizens Climate Lobby, an organization dedicated to lobbying for a carbon fee plan like the Baker-Shultz plan, successfully lobbied for The Energy Innovation & Carbon Dividend Act which currently has 80 Democrat cosponsors.

What makes the Baker-Shultz plan better, according to George Behrakis, is its “unique level of business support.” We would be foolish not to pursue such a plan with prominent Republican figures like Sen. Linsey GrahamRep. Ryan Costelo, and Sen. Mitt Romney endorsing carbon pricing.

Utah is in a unique position to push for real climate action. George Behrakis is correct in saying that “political leaders in Utah on the Republican side are already leaning in on these issues.”

With Utah Congressman John Curtis founding the Conservative Climate Caucus, and leaders like Sen. Romney and Governor Spencer Cox recognizing the dangers of climate change and the necessity to act on it, Utah as a state can make a difference in the fight against climate change, and it starts with our leaders pushing for the implementation of the Baker-Shultz plan.

Ian Linnabary, Opinion Writer