Project Report:
Building Grasstops Support in 2022/2023 for Carbon Pricing
Purpose
- 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.

Summary

In 2022-23, the Pricing Carbon Initiative (PCI) will continue with its efforts, launched in 2011, to build support, by fostering understanding and cooperation between a wide range of organizations and opinion leaders, for bipartisan carbon pricing solutions designed to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. During the ongoing pandemic, PCI is conducting the ongoing Pricing Carbon Dialogues in a virtual mode. Given how well this is working, the virtual meetings will likely continue even after our in-person meetings resume. PCI will also continue to organize related efforts designed to engage and encourage additional support, cooperation and participation. [This application, submitted earlier this year, is being resubmitted with updates for the October 1, 2022 grant cycle.

Description

This report covers Pricing Carbon Initiative (PCI) projects that were substantially enabled by the $30,000 Alex C. Walker Foundation grant that was approved on October 20, 2022. The funding covers work undertaken and completed between November 1, 2022 and February 15, 2023. It was a period marked by some of our most significant accomplishments that also helped establish the framework for expanded goals for the remainder of 2023. These accomplishments included the hiring of new Acting Director, Danny Richter (Tom Stokes continues to serve as President), hosting one virtual and two in-person events, testimony at a public hearing, attendance and participation at other hearings or forums. In preparation of PCI’s agenda for the remainder of 2023, we retained part-time help to assist with fundraising, outreach with diverse stakeholders, and with re-establishing and updating PCI’s website. We also organized three confidential dialogues held under the Chatham House Rule.

On December 1, 2022 we organized and hosted a virtual dialogue: an hour and a half discussion with a more open format than we have used in the past. Instead of a panel, we had 5 discussants kick-start the discussion with brief, 2-minute remarks sharing their thoughts on the dynamics of the upcoming Congress. To frame their remarks, discussants were asked to focus on: 1) what might be achieved given Republican control of the House, 2) what we can expect from the Biden administration on its climate and clean energy agenda (emissions regulations, social cost of carbon, financial sector regulation, etc.), and 3) what might still be possible in the current lame-duck session? The diverse perspectives shared in those brief remarks stimulated robust subsequent dialogue and participation from others who joined the virtual dialogue. This 50-minute section was followed up with reviews of international and state-based initiatives, and updates to round out the 90-minute event.

On January 25, 2023 we organized a small in-person confidential dialogue with 13 legal and policy experts to provide assistance to the Climate Protection and Restoration Initiative in their efforts to seek additional input and aid in their lawsuit to compel EPA to enforce a phase-out of fossil fuels. PCI was instrumental in introducing CPR Initiative to several of the participants, and the feedback was that they learned a great deal that may be of benefit to them. There were many reasons for skepticism shared about their project, as well as many reasons for optimism for it to have a positive impact. Possible future directions were also identified.

On the following day, on January 26th, we held our first in-person confidential dialogue with our stakeholder network in 3 years, since Jan 2020. It was co-hosted by the Brookings Institution and had 56 in-person attendees, and another 39 who joined us virtually. There were 2 panels with 6 and 5 panelists, respectively, a keynote discussion, breakout sessions, and a debrief from the different break-out sessions. The day was capped by a happy hour hosted by the Brookings Institution. A luncheon was provided for all in-person attendees.

The topics of the two panels were “a review of challenges and opportunities at the federal level.” Panel 1 explored “international and state implications for carbon border adjustment mechanisms (CBAMs), and Panel 2 explored “the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), and its methane fee in particular.” 2. The keynote was a dialogue between a current and a former Republican member of Congress, both influential climate advocates. The current member indicated interest in the former members advocacy for CBAMs. The planned topics for the 5 breakouts were the methane fee, the Farm Bill, climate risks, the CBAM, and IRA implementation. In the actual event, the CBAM breakout attracted perhaps ? of all in-person attendees, with the result that the Farm Bill, methane fee, and IRA implementation breakouts were combined into one in an example of flexibility in responding to the demands of our participants.

Overall reactions to the dialogue were overwhelmingly positive. The keynote discussion was singled out by participants in particular, as were the breakout sessions for being particularly engaging. Many commented on the pleasure of unstructured conversations with old and new colleagues during the breaks and at lunch. Additionally, virtual participants had very positive things to say about the Brookings events team that managed the camera angles and online experience. Overall, our return to in-person dialogues was a big success, and generated a great deal of enthusiasm and interest for continuing our work.

Now in our eleventh year of holding Walker Foundation-funded Carbon Pricing Dialogues, there continues to be a compelling need to bring diverse perspectives together to learn from experts, exchange viewpoints, and facilitate collegial discourse that otherwise would not occur. On carbon pricing specifically, there are grounds for optimism that this is a policy that will remain in the public view. Four points support this: 1) the last two Congresses had a glut of new and innovative carbon price bills submitted. This provides a lot of tools for deal-makers to work with. 2) The methane fee that was part of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Though it is not a carbon price, it is a price on a greenhouse gas in place at the federal level. That may lower barriers to entry for other similar ideas. 3) You have actual Republican Senators expressing interest in a carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM), and Senator Manchin himself highlighting it as one of the most promising areas for collaboration out of the bipartisan effort he and Senator Murkowski spearheaded the month or two before the IRA actually passed. A CBAM is a policy concept closely related to a carbon price, with many experts saying you cannot do a CBAM without a domestic carbon price in place. 4) The rest of the world continues to move forward with implementing carbon prices of their own, and with CBAMs. While the European Union is particularly notable for their concrete efforts, Japan, Canada, and the United Kingdom have also expressed interest in a CBAM.

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 the confidential dialogues in this report that is available to the public on the Walker Foundation website.)

All of PCI’s progress has been made possible by the steady, ongoing support from the Walker Foundation, for which we are most grateful.

Purpose

Participants 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. PCI’s continuing bi-partisan, multi-stakeholder dialogues continue to build consensus across party lines and with ideologically diverse interest groups.

Scope

The scope of this project is national, but given the ongoing unfavorable political dynamics in Washington DC, we are also remaining attentive to international, state-based, and various legal initiatives that could be important forerunners of much-needed national pricing carbon solutions.

Amount Approved
$30,000.00 on 10/20/2022 (Check sent: 10/28/2022)


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Attachments
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Contacts


Mr. Thomas H Stokes
Director, Pricing Carbon Initiative

Posted 5/31/2022 6:15 AM
Updated   3/13/2023 8:17 PM

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