Episode 4: Why doesn't the U.S. have a national price on carbon?

The obstacles preventing a national carbon price and an argument for a different approach to climate action

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In today’s episode, Casey, Jacob, and Naomi explore the obstacles preventing the passage of a national carbon price, and the argument for a different approach to climate action. They speak with Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Nat Keohane (Senior Vice President for Climate at EDF), Saya Ameli Hajebi (Sunrise Movement activist), Carlos Curbelo (Former Congressman R-FL 26), David Roberts (Author of the Volts newsletter on clean energy and politics), and Susanne Brooks (Senior Director of U.S. Climate Policy at EDF). 

Notable Quotes

On the failed passage of the Waxman-Markey national cap-and-trade bill:

David Roberts: The legitimacy of business backing, the legitimacy of having a republican sponsor will allow you to start building a Coalition from the center out and eventually get enough people on board to pass it....That was the idea and has been the idea for most of the time Democrats have known about climate change, and it, you know, it failed pretty spectacularly in 2009 and 2010.

On the politicization of climate change in Congress:

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse: Part of the problem at this point I've got nobody to negotiate with on the Republican side. Every single Republican in the Senate has basically been driven away from having serious conversations about climate change and carbon pricing by all these front groups and the political war apparatus of the fossil fuel industry.

How do we pass a Green New Deal?

Saya Ameli Hajebi: Throughout American history it's been a recurring theme to have social movements rise up and have people really change the role of government and get people rights through standing up and making our voice heard. We're getting thousands and thousands of young people. And we're taking the matter into our own hands.

Where does carbon pricing fit into the future of national climate policy?

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse: I think a carbon price is going to be the center pole of the tent. There might be a lot of other poles that hold it all up and add value and make it stronger. But I do think that without a carbon price, the idea of being able to pull off staying at 1.5 degrees just doesn't seem credible.

Further reading on today’s episode:

Photo by Andy Feliciotti on Unsplash