Residents throughout Washington will soon be faced with a decision that could reverberate in cities and states throughout the country. That decision? Whether or not to implement a carbon tax. While many ideas on taxing carbon have been floated in recent years, support for such a program has been growing in Washington—so much so, that the carbon tax will either be sent to the state legislature to be passed, or it will show up on the 2016 ballot as an initiative.
The concept behind the carbon tax is simple: put a price on carbon to drive down demand. While increasing the cost of carbon, most of these initiatives are revenue neutral—drawing revenue through the carbon tax, but then returning the funds back to residents via tax breaks or rebates that help boost economic growth. Washington’s plan shows that climate solutions can also empower social justice—as the revenue from the proposed legislation would replace the state’s most regressive taxes that disproportionately burdens the poor.
These proposals are spreading throughout the country, and even across the political spectrum. Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Oregon are all pursuing similar carbon-taxing schemes—and are pulling together Democrats and Republicans, businesses and environmental groups. The principle guiding these unlikely alliances is the recognition that action on climate is necessary, and that both the private and public sectors have a role to play in the solution.
Climate leaders in Washington and a growing number of states throughout the country are pioneering new solutions to address climate change. The best solutions are those which have a meaningful impact on climate, and empower residents and communities. Find out how your city can get on the path to climate solutions by visiting Path to Positive Communities.
In Washington state, a circulating petition might be the key to both permanently cutting down on the state’s carbon footprint and also reforming what is widely considered one of the nation’s most regressive tax systems. If enough signatures are secured, the petition will allow the United States’ first-ever carbon tax a spot on the ballot.
Carbon Washington is a grassroots carbon tax campaign founded by environmental economist and stand-up comedian Yoram Bauman. The idea of a carbon tax is pretty simple: It’s a form of carbon pricing that aims to drive greenhouse gas emissions down by requiring people to pay a tax or a fee on either the carbon they emit or the fossil fuels they purchase, and then either returning the revenue to the public or using it for new government programs (Washington state would do the former).
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