Rex Tillerson, President Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of state, is right — climate change is real, and climate scientists cannot predict precisely how it will show itself in the future. But if you were predicting how a fire or flood might ravage your home, wouldn’t you go for some kind of insurance?

Tillerson, as CEO of Exxon-Mobil, has got that covered. Exxon’s insurance policy is to put a price on carbon dioxide emissions, which it already incorporates into its internal pricing.

The fairest way to incorporate carbon pricing nationally is a policy called carbon fee and dividend. It is a thoroughly Republican idea, being revenue neutral and not building the size of government. A similar program put in place by a conservative government has already shown value in the Canadian province of British Columbia.

Carbon fee and dividend uses market forces to build the economy adding millions of new jobs. These jobs would come with innovation of technologies to replace our current economy that is so thoroughly dependent on fossil fuels. Think electric cars, etc. The fee would not be an additional gas tax. Instead it would be paid by companies that extract oil, coal and natural gas.

The dividend, distributed equally, would mean that those with low or moderate incomes — people who in any case have smaller carbon footprints — would break even or be better off. Wealthier households would have additional money to spend on insulation, energy efficiency and alternative energy sources.

It’s a win-win. A win for keeping America in the forefront of the alternative energy revolution, and a win for keeping climate change from getting out of hand.


Furthermore, it’s an opportunity for Republicans in Congress, including our Sen. Susan Collins and Rep. Bruce Poliquin, to do something really positive both for the economy and for the nation’s health and well-being.

Peter Garrett, Ph.D.

Citizens’ Climate Lobby


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