Project Report:
Seeking Consensus on Viable Bipartisan Options for Pricing Carbon Emissions
- Investigates the causes of economic imbalances.
- Investigates the effect of the global financial system and/or the monetary system in fostering a sustainable economy.
- Explores and develops market-based solutions.


The Karuna Center for Peacebuilding will assist the Pricing Carbon Initiative (PCI) in its efforts to build consensus around viable bipartisan policies and legislative solutions that price carbon emissions. Together, they will organize, host and facilitate a 3-day strategic planning retreat in October 2014 for key PCI participants, which include stakeholders and policy experts, representing diverse organizations and constituencies. They will evaluate PCI’s regularly scheduled dialogues, which have be in place for three years, and strategize on how to maximize their value.


Report on Karuna Center for Peacebuilding’s Work in 2014
with the Pricing Carbon Initiative

In early 2014, the Karuna Center for Peacebuilding entered into a partnership with the Pricing Carbon Initiative (PCI) to advise on its consensus-building work and to assist with strategic planning. PCI had been hosting confidential dialogues in Washington DC with a broadening network of organizations, constituencies and policy experts, seeking consensus on viable bipartisan policies and legislative options for pricing carbon emissions. Over three years, there had been 16 of these half-day meetings, usually involving guest presenters and about 40 people from the PCI network, which had grown to over 100 active participants representing over 50 groups. Although PCI was continuing to attract significant interest and participation, it was uncertain as to how to maximize the value of this work and move from discussion to joint action.

To help resolve these questions, the Karuna Center worked with PCI to organize and facilitate a 3-day retreat on October 5-7, 2014, in Adamstown, Maryland, near Washington DC. The retreat was for 35 participants, of whom 22 had played a key role with PCI and 13 were new to the dialogues but invited because they represented initiatives, constituencies, and regions of the country that PCI was seeking to engage. The meeting agenda included look at the broader pricing carbon movement, an evaluation PCI’s work, and strategic planning.

On Sunday evening, October 5, participants set the tone for the retreat by sharing core values, objectives, personal reflections, and reasons for participating in the PCI network. On Monday, we reviewed and discussed external factors related to pricing carbon options, policies, and opportunities. The four 80-minute sessions with expert panelists addressed: 1) international pricing carbon initiatives, 2) state-based pricing initiatives, 3) openings at the national level (on the Hill, 2016 presidential race, etc.), and 4) grassroots and grass-tops support for pricing carbon.

On Tuesday, we looked inward at PCI’s mission, value added, potential impacts, and strategic opportunities. Short and long-term plans were made:
- In sub-groups participants developed plans for specific projects including: 1) a design matrix that compares and evaluates pricing carbon options, 2) a network of state-based initiatives, 3) a “citizen scientists” project to engage students, 4) an ongoing focus on tailored communication, language, and messaging for different constituencies, and 5) business outreach.
- PCI will expand its network, especially among business, faith-based, and youth/millennial constituents.
- PCI will continue to host the DC-based dialogues. Regional meetings and a second annual retreat were also considered.
- In addition to the timely panels on pricing carbon, future PCI dialogues will include workshops for subgroup projects.

The retreat’s expansive and slower-paced format offered a unique opportunity for key PCI participants to assess the current opportunities and challenges, to discuss ways to cooperate and coordinate, to share information and ideas, and to begin long-range planning in a relaxed, scenic setting with time and space for walks, humor, and even some songs. By including time for both formal facilitated sessions and informal personal conversations, the retreat offered participants time to develop and foster working relationships beyond what was possible at the shorter, half-day PCI meetings in Washington DC.

With a strong representation at the retreat from the center-right, differences between progressives and conservatives began to look more like a potential strength, rather than the chasm that PCI and others in the climate movement had long grappled with. Participants responded particularly well to the Karuna Center’s dialogue guidelines. Rather than debating and reiterating points already made, there was more listening and a greater effort to seek language that is not inadvertently loaded to the ears of those with different views and agendas on a range of social and fiscal issues. Most importantly, the group focused on their shared agreement that pricing negative externalities is good environmental and fiscal policy, a foundation for collaboration, and a promising route toward bipartisan support for pricing carbon.

We are most appreciative to the Walker Foundation for their generous support. We believe that the retreat was invaluable to PCI’s growth and transition to a more effective network organization.

(More details about the retreat and the lead up to it are in the attached notes.)


Participants in the PCI’s network share a growing sense that correcting the price distortion that excludes the climate/social cost of fossil fuels from their pricing is a paramount goal of effective climate policy, both nationally and globally. Market-driven solutions are central to PCI’s mission. The evaluation and strategic planning outlined in this proposal will help PCI become more effective at conveying these concepts and building consensus across party lines and with ideologically diverse interest groups, as it garners widespread support for pricing carbon pollution.


While the scope of this project is national, the retreat and the follow up will also focus on state-based pricing carbon initiatives which may be the forerunners of much needed national legislative solutions. PCI is also attentive to international pricing initiatives, especially during the run-up to the December 2015 U.N. climate talks in Paris.

Information Dissemination

Although information about PCI’s retreat and dialogues is confidential, PIC is currently exploring an on-line platform where pricing carbon information can be shared and disseminated.

Project Link

Amount Approved
$30,000.00 on 5/20/2014 (Check sent: 5/30/2014)


Additional notes on the Karuna Center_PCI project (Doc)

447 West Street
Ste. 2
Amherst, MA 01002-2900

(413) 256-3800


Mr. Thomas H Stokes
Director, Pricing Carbon Initiative

Posted 4/24/2014 11:14 AM
Updated   12/20/2015 8:23 PM

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