- 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.
The Karuna Center for Peacebuilding will continue to assist the Pricing Carbon Initiative, as it has in 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2016, 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 interim report is for the initial 2017 grant from the Walker Foundation* in support of the Pricing Carbon Initiative (PCI). This $10,000 grant to the Karuna Center was for the PCI work it sponsored and participated in during the months of April, May and June. The intended uses were to:
1) Organize and implement a successful day-long Pricing Carbon Dialogue on June 16, 2017;
2) Raise funds from other sources needed to establish a strong presence for the remainder of 2017 and into 2018;
3) Complete PCI’s IRS 501(c)(3) application; and
4) Make necessary strategic plans for the remainder of 2017 and for 2018.
We begin by reporting on the June 16th Pricing Carbon Dialogue, which was the second of our quarterly gatherings this year in Washington, DC. The event involved 70 participants, representing most of the 80 diverse organizations in the Pricing Carbon Initiative network. We met at the Brookings Institution from 8:45 to 4:00, with breakfast and lunch courtesy of our Brookings host. (Consistent with our abiding by the Chatham House Rule, we mention no names of participants in this report.)
The two morning panels lasted 95 minutes each. The first was on international developments, examining both stark setbacks and important signs of progress. The setbacks were familiar to our participants, but startling nonetheless. Our presenters portrayed the U.S as having a much-diminished role as a world leader in addressing climate disruption, having lost much of the respect of the global community, as a consequence of: 1) current policies of the Trump administration and Congress; 2) lack of cooperation with other nations (especially at the May G7 Summit in Taormina, Italy); and 3) most dramatically, the June 7th U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord. That said, panelists also reported on encouraging developments, many of which our participants were less familiar with. These included: 1) the influential, strongly-worded report issued recently by the High-Level Commission on Carbon Prices and other recent reports that could impact carbon pricing; 2) countries and international businesses collaborating with the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition 3) emerging carbon pricing government initiatives in Canada, Mexico and China, and 4) the robust “We Are Still In” campaign (with its remarkable and growing number of state and municipal governments and other stakeholders pledging to abide by the terms set forth in the Paris Accord).
The second panel featured U.S. state-based and Canadian province-based initiatives. Two leading state senators (from East and West Coast states) described their respective efforts to enact state-level carbon pricing legislation. We also heard from representatives from a Canadian province and the Canadian Embassy in Washington, as well as NGOs working on behalf of state and provincial initiatives. As a whole, this group of panelists spoke from a perspective that was new and of interest to many of our participants. Although the state senators presented via audio conferencing, the technology worked flawlessly, and a number of participants commented on how they had particularly appreciated hearing first-hand about those legislative efforts.
The afternoon featured updates on three U.S. initiatives: further details on the “We Are Still In” campaign; the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program; and the National Audubon Society’s Climate Initiative. Those updates were followed by a free-flowing panel discussion on U.S. policy options under the heading “promoting a price on carbon in challenging circumstances.” One of the presenters made a compelling, slide-based presentation illustrating that much of the most consequential legislation in the U.S. was enacted (in the early 1970’s and later) under challenging and seemingly hostile political circumstances. There was also a fair amount of discussion on how best to influence Republican tax reform efforts to incorporate carbon pricing measures. The general consensus, however, was that the most productive avenues for short-term progress would be with business interests and state-based initiatives.
As always, our participants made good use of the opportunities to network during the breaks and the luncheon. The June 16th Dialogue was important for PCI because it helped to reinforce our role during these changing times. Given the politically challenging circumstances we are facing, the positive feedback was especially reassuring. In short, this Dialogue, as with our other Dialogues and related PCI events, has 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.
During this grant period, PCI as also concentrated on its IRS 501 (c)(3) application (which is almost ready for submittal) and on fundraising efforts from other sources. Besides this initial grant of $10,000 and the follow-up grant request to the Walker Foundation for $20,000, PCI has raised $20,000 from two other foundations and $6,350 from individuals. For the remainder of the year, we are projecting an additional $4,400 from individual donations and $15,000 from foundations, for a total 2017 budget of $75,750.
PCI’s strategic planning for the remainder of 2017 and for 2018 is informed, as always, by it’s long-term vision of seeing the broad adoption of effective, politically viable and equitable carbon pricing legislation, which may require a significant paradigm shift in U.S. policy. PCI is as committed as ever to the long haul. Our next steps in this direction will include:
1) Continuing the quarterly Dialogues in their current form while making some minor adjustments;
2) Remaining current and prepared for potential near-term legislative openings, especially those that could involve connecting tax reform with pricing carbon;
3) Engaging with state-based, business-based, international and other initiatives that could affect potential national policies as they become more viable; and
4) Undertaking other projects that could complement the Dialogues.
Although we are not currently prepared to commit to specific longer-term projects we plan to address them in greater detail in our forthcoming Walker Foundation grant request, for the fall of 2017, and in the subsequent report on that grant period.
* A second application to the Walker Foundation is pending for PCI work in September, October, November and December of 2017.
Participants in the PCI network share a growing belief that correcting the price distortion that excludes the climate/social cost of fossil fuels from their pricing is more timely and urgent than ever. Market-driven solutions are central to PCI's mission. The ongoing bi-partisan, multi-stakeholder dialogues continue to build consensus across party lines and with ideologically diverse interest groups.
The scope of this project is national, but given the current unfavorable political dynamics in Washington DC, we are focusing more of our efforts this year on 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.
Since 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, PCI shares this and other confidential information with the Foundation’s principals, but it cannot be posted on this or any publicly accessible website.
That said, there will likely be future occasions, as there have been in the past, when PCI will generate information for public dissemination.
(Check sent: 5/11/2017)