Guest opinion: Utah should lead with carbon dividends

 Utahns must be good stewards of the environment we have inherited. We owe it to our state’s future and our children’s future to take decisive action to curb carbon emissions. The best way to accomplish this is for Utah to lead and champion solutions that both parties can support. That is why I support the Baker-Shultz Carbon Dividends Plan.

There’s growing momentum in Utah to address climate change. Polling shows that the majority of Utahns see the damage climate change is doing to our state. Similarly, more than 150 prominent local leaders have called for responsible action by signing the Utah Climate and Clean Air Compact. College Republicans and other young conservatives are also speaking out, arguing for a national climate policy that protects their future security and prosperity.  

Many of these young Republicans support a specific proposal for solving climate change: the Baker-Shultz Carbon Dividends Plan. This plan enjoys popular support in Utah across party lines. When polled, about two-thirds of Utahns, regardless of party affiliation, favor this solution. Local business and community leaders have founded Utahns for Carbon Dividends, to urge our federal representatives to advance the Baker-Shultz Plan in Congress. Today I am honored to join these distinguished Utahns as a co-chair.

Why this policy? Put simply, carbon dividends is one of the best solutions to our climate problem. Other policies work too slowly, pick winners and losers, and impose burdensome restrictions on industry. By contrast, the Baker-Shultz Plan centers on a nationwide carbon fee to drive down emissions across the entire economy. It will slash U.S. carbon emissions by more than half over the next two decades while giving businesses the certainty and steady incentives they need to innovate. And it rewards forward-thinking entrepreneurs, like we have in Utah. 

The Baker-Shultz plan will also reinvigorate our manufacturers. Many people don’t realize that today U.S. businesses compete on an unlevel playing field against manufacturers overseas. In countries like China and India, laxer pollution and emissions standards allow industries there to operate at far lower costs, at the expense of their local environment and our global climate. By applying a carbon price on foreign goods as they enter our borders, this plan instantly increases the competitiveness of clean-operating U.S. manufacturers. It will reward environmental stewardship and position Utah’s steel makers, mine operators and chemical manufacturers to grow and create jobs. 

Finally, this plan ensures that real people gain as the economy shifts to clean energy. All the revenue netted from the carbon fee will be returned to every American in quarterly payments. The vast majority of families will come out financially ahead, with a family of four receiving about $2,000 a year in “carbon dividends.” No other climate policy returns money to families, rewarding them for reducing emissions however they choose.

With this plan, Utah has the opportunity to lead on climate and put America on a path to a clean energy future. Utahns have a long history of leading on the pressing issues of our time. Our elected representatives can show the rest of the country that on climate action Utahns can put forth an even better solution that showcases the power of markets and the conservative principle of limited government. 

At the same time, our elected leaders can demonstrate that policy doesn’t need to be controversial or divisive. We can set an example for the rest of the country that governance should be about finding common ground and working toward common goals. We can all agree that climate policy should position us to be good stewards of the environment, grow our economy and do what’s best for our kids. A policy solution based on these principles opens the door to uniting both parties toward lasting climate progress.

It’s time to act responsibly on climate. The Baker-Shultz Plan offers a way forward that works for both parties–and can gain bipartisan support. Utah should lead and embrace this commonsense solution. 

Scott Anderson is a Utah business leader and a member of the Utah Climate and Clean Air Compact.