What’s driving the growing consensus among businesses in Washington for putting a price on carbon? Business leaders recognize the economic benefits of energy efficiency, infrastructure investment, and regulatory certainty. And they understand the urgency — and opportunities — of transitioning to a clean, low-carbon economy.
The Washington Roundtable, a nonprofit organization composed of senior executives of major private sector employers in Washington state, is working to “advance policies that support diversified and inclusive statewide recovery”. In a recent conversation with the editorial board of the Everett Herald, Roundtable officials discussed the merits of a cap-and-invest program:
What cap-and-invest offers, said Steve Mullin, president of the Roundtable, is more predictability for business that can achieve goals for carbon reduction. Market forces, Mullin said, rely on businesses doing things in their own self-interest.
“We just need to make sure that their interests are in doing the things you want to accomplish,” he said.
The advantage in setting a cap, said Neil Strege, Roundtable vice president, is that once the cap is set, that effectively limits the amount of carbon that can be released. While credits can offset carbon emissions, there’s still a ceiling set for carbon that won’t be breached.
A carbon tax, on the other hand, Strege said, doesn’t offer the same limits; you have to trust that the price will be high enough to encourage efforts to reduce emissions; industry could just decide to pay the tax, pass along the costs and continue spewing carbon.
“The problem with a carbon tax is that in a democracy you can’t practically set the price high enough that you’re going to incentivize changes in behavior,” Strege said. “You’d have to set the carbon tax rate high enough that I will want to give up my gas-fueled vehicle and buy an electric vehicle.”
Washington has an historic opportunity to implement a cap-and-invest approach with the Climate Commitment Act (SB 5126). We can take meaningful climate action and enhance our state’s competitiveness in the post-pandemic economy.
Please read our Climate Commitment Act Declaration of Support, then sign and share. Thank you!