- Investigates the causes of economic imbalances.
- Investigates the effect of the global financial system and/or the monetary system in fostering a sustainable economy.
- Investigates causes tending to destroy or impair the free-market system.
- Explores and develops market-based solutions.
In 2018, the Karuna Center for Peacebuilding will continue to assist the Pricing Carbon Initiative, as it has done in 2011, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017, in building consensus around policies and bipartisan legislative solutions that price carbon. Together we will continue to design, organize and facilitate dialogues with an expanding network of influential decision makers, support action-oriented initiatives, and develop systems for sharing and disseminating information.
This report covers the three Pricing Carbon Dialogues in Washington DC that were substantially enabled by funds from the 2018 Walker Foundation Grant. The Dialogues took place in May, September and November of 2018. We also briefly highlight the March 2019 Dialogue. We are now in our eighth year of holding quarterly half and full-day dialogues in Washington DC, where our confidentiality protocol provides a comfortable setting for candid, often revealing discussions between diverse stakeholders and opinion leaders. Our network represents 90 environmental, business, and other issue-oriented organizations, as well as conservative and progressive think tanks. Notwithstanding the polarization that currently pervades much of Capitol Hill, we remain focused on bipartisanship. The increasing participation at our Dialogues of Republican-leaning factions in discussions with environmentalists on carbon pricing mechanisms and strategies that can meet common objectives for effectiveness, equity and political viability has been notable and encouraging.
A brief description of the four Dialogues
The Dialogue on May 29, 2018, on the theme of “Evolving Design Elements for Carbon Pricing Policies,” consisted of a full day at the Brookings Institution exploring political and policy trends influencing opinion leaders, both within and outside of our network. The first panel focused on framing the discussion on design elements. Panelists representing conservative, progressive, environmental justice and international perspectives offered an overview of new developments in the carbon pricing space both in the US and internationally.
The second panel looked at specific design elements, exploring which elements are gaining and failing to gain attention, plausibility, and support and why. Recent polling data was presented and interpreted. After lunch and some updates, we divided into subgroups to explore how the design elements previously reviewed might work under various political scenarios and to gauge interest levels in various carbon pricing policies as we prepared for new opportunities in 2019 and beyond. We ended the day in a plenary session, first with reports from the break-out circles and finally discussing emerging concerns, priorities, plans and converging themes.
There was a general consensus that, despite differences on policy details, members of our diverse network share a remarkable core of agreement:
- We have shared multiple good ideas that should be more visible in the public sphere.
- Education on the Hill is important.
- Work on public messaging is needed.
- Although we often repeat past cycles, in our dogged efforts to map policies and strategies we find some elements that correspond to both conservative and equity ideals.
- Considering that almost anything could happen in the 2018 elections, we saw room for hope. Not optimism but hope.
- We saw that we could soon be in a position to guide some legislative efforts, maybe even in 2019.
The September 20th Dialogue, held at Resources for the Future, focused on climate-related lawsuits: the rationale behind them, their current status, their implications, and how they may help (or deter) efforts to price carbon. The first panel reviewed active and pending lawsuits. A senior lawyer with Our Children’s Trust’s presented (remotely) on their landmark case, Juliana v. United States, while the other two panelists provided factual overviews of important climate-related legal actions around the country.
The second panel was on the implications of the lawsuits, including analysis of legal actions and discussion of their potential impact on the climate movement as a whole and specifically on pricing carbon (in terms of the discovery process, SEC probes, immunity provisions, etc.). The four lawyers on the panel brought insider perspectives on various implications of the lawsuits, including the immunity provisions that fossil fuel companies and others are seeking. (One presenter had been the lead counsel for the U.S. in the federal tobacco litigation.) Despite daunting reminders of how long the court process can take, it was encouraging to hear about the additional benefits that the growing number of climate-related lawsuits could yield, such as the uncovering of incriminating facts through the discovery process, the strengthening of public will, the engagement of state and municipal governments (who may be prompted to institute policy changes), and the engagement of other stakeholders (including “our children”).
On November 28th, we convened for a full-day Dialogue at the World Resources Institute to take a look at the mid-term election results and the international carbon pricing landscape. We discussed post-election developments that indicate where federal and state actions might be most promising in 2019 and beyond. On the first panel, presenters commented on the new Congress from the Democratic and Republican perspectives, from the perspective of staff from the 2009 House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, and from authors of the Waxman-Markey Bill. Panelists also commented on the new bipartisan bill announced that very morning (the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act)and on the Green New Deal, which had clearly garnered a great deal of interest.
The second panel examined upcoming state elections & state-based pricing initiatives in 2019, and the third panel looked at international advances toward carbon pricing and how they could influence U.S. policy. We concluded with a plenary discussion, assessing where we find ourselves and considering which alliances and opportunities to pursue in 2019, including:
- Establishing a consensus on guidelines for a broad-based bill to be enacted in 2021. (It should not impose an economic burden on low-income households.)
- Engaging with House and Senate committees, with an eye to building ties that could be useful in 2021.
- Seeking bipartisan cooperation on infrastructure jobs and opportunities.
- Focusing on state-based initiatives.
On March 26, 2019, we met for the morning at the American Enterprise Institute. It was a fitting venue for highlighting Republican support for carbon pricing policies. The opening panelists spoke on “garnering support for carbon pricing legislation” from conservative and progressive perspectives and in light of relevant recent polling of US citizens. Our second panel featured two former Republican Members of the House speaking on the “Republican strategy for a bipartisan carbon pricing bill,” after which we held a “fireside chat” with a Democratic Senator, in which he shared his views on getting a bipartisan pricing bill passed.
Right after the morning program, a luncheon followed at Brookings Institution (which is next to AEI) with 16 key participants. It was funded by a supplemental grant to Brookings from the Walker Foundation, which funds some of Brookings’ carbon tax work. The luncheon included an in-depth discussion informed by the morning’s presentations.
Both the Dialogue and the luncheon affirmed the value of—and the need and potential for—bipartisan carbon pricing legislation, while also providing concrete support and encouragement for PCI to continue with the Pricing Carbon Dialogues and related work in 2019 and beyond.
Given the politically challenging circumstances the climate movement continues to face, the ongoing, the ongoing positive feedback from our participants has been especially appreciated and reassuring. We are grateful to the Walker Foundation for their support in making our Dialogues possible.
As always, the Dialogues and related PCI events have helped make a difference by:
1) Engaging more organizations, sectors and constituencies in discussing pricing carbon issues;
2) Furthering an understanding of policy solutions and the political dynamics involved in enacting them;
3) Providing opportunities for networking, meeting other stakeholders, and building new alliances; and
4) Helping organizations and other stakeholders stay abreast of what others in the climate movement are thinking and doing.
(Consistent with the Chatham House Rule, we mention no names of participants in this report, which is available to the public on the Walker Foundation website. Confidential information, with particulars about Dialogue agendas and participants, is shared with the Foundation’s principals.)
PurposeParticipants in the PCI network share a steadfast belief that correcting the price distortion that excludes the climatic and social costs of fossil fuels from their pricing is more timely and urgent than ever. Market-driven solutions are central to PCI's mission. Their ongoing bi-partisan, multi-stakeholder dialogues continue to build consensus across party lines and with ideologically diverse interest groups.
ScopeThe scope of this project is national, but given the continuing unfavorable political dynamics in Washington DC, we are diversifying our efforts this year by also creating opportunities for information sharing and exchange on a variety of international, state-based, and legal initiatives that are of increasing importance as likely forerunners of much-needed national pricing carbon solutions, especially if political opportunities emerge in 2019.
Information DisseminationSince this phase of PCI’s work is focused on sharing confidential information between participants in our network, there can be no dissemination of information to the general public on the results and findings of this project. Information about the Dialogues and related projects is shared only with the designated representatives of the participating organizations. Since the Walker Foundation both supports and participates in the Dialogues, we share this and other confidential information with the Foundation’s principals, but it cannot be posted on this or any other publicly accessible website.
That said, PCI is still making plans to have the capacity in 2019 to play a useful role in generating information for public dissemination, via our website and elsewhere, as we have done in the past.
(Check sent: 8/27/2018)