Why a Carbon Tax May Be Our Most Effective Weapon Against Climate Change
The time to act on climate change is right now. Research has shown that we must cut carbon emissions by 80 percent over the next 40 to 50 years to avoid severe consequences. Yet here in America, debates over how to approach climate change or even whether it exists are keeping progress at a standstill.
At the first event of the MIT Climate Change Conversation two weeks ago, MIT alumnus Larry Linden called for a solution: carbon pricing. Acknowledging that America’s political climate may make this challenging, Linden said his foundation – the Linden Trust for Conservation – was seeking bipartisan approaches, and is advocating a revenue-neutral carbon tax as the next big change in policy.
Here’s why this solution has a better-than-average chance of success. Conservatives who possess a strong individualist streak tend to reject measures that fund government programs. But a revenue-neutral tax would return the revenue to the citizens, meaning it’s something both conservatives and liberals can embrace.
Linden, who is a board member of the World Wildlife Fund and a member of the Funders Council for our MomentUs initiative, is optimistic about this approach. As he says, “This is an idea that could go from impossible to inevitable overnight.”
Linden believes public action will make the difference in getting politicians to move forward. This is where climate leaders like you come in – supporting state and local initiatives that can serve as working examples for large-scale action, and inspiring those around you to get involved and make their voices heard.
By David L. Chandler, MIT
MIT alumnus and prominent conservationist calls for carbon tax to combat global warming.
After a career that included work as a White House advisor in the Carter administration and as a partner at Goldman Sachs, Larry Linden SM ’70, PhD ’76 has turned his attention to what he says is the most critical issue facing humanity today: the threat of catastrophic global climate change.
Linden, speaking on campus Wednesday in the opening event of the MIT Climate Change Conversation, urged his audience to join him in making the issue a top priority — and in pushing elected leaders to take concrete action now, before changes to the world’s atmosphere and oceans become irreversibly damaging. And the most effective approach, he emphasized, is by putting a price on carbon emissions from fossil fuels.
That could take a number of forms: an outright tax on carbon, a cap-and-trade arrangement, or a revenue-neutral combination of fees and rebates. While the present political climate in the United States may make any such agreement an uphill battle, Linden stressed that his foundation — the Linden Trust for Conservation — and other groups are working hard to find centrist, bipartisan approaches that could lead toward the goal of limiting global climate change.
Image credit: MIT