In an “Only Nixon could go to China” moment, a group of Republican elder statesmen will call on the Trump administration for a tax on carbon emissions in order to fight climate change, the New York Times reports.
The group, led by former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, former Secretary of State George P. Shultz, and former Treasury secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr., said that a carbon tax is in line with classic conservative principles of free-market solutions and small government, and they invoked the name of Ronald Reagan.
A survey by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication taken just after the 2016 election found that 66 percent of registered voters supported a carbon tax on fossil fuel companies—if the money were used to reduce personal taxes. The Yale study found that even among Trump voters, 48 percent support taxing fossil fuel companies.
Of course, the devil is in the details: How high such a tax should be, would the funds it raises be used to promote renewables or returned to consumers, and would it insulate fossil fuel companies against possible lawsuits over the damage their products have caused to the environment—as the Republican group suggests.
And no one knows how the plan would be received by Stephen Bannon, the president’s senior counselor, who has been an outspoken denier of the science of climate change.