The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University

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As lawmakers plan to vote on an anti-carbon tax resolution from House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.), another Republican is expected to roll out carbon tax legislation as early as next week.

According to a draft copy obtained by ClimateWire, Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) is preparing to introduce legislation that would eliminate the federal gas tax and impose a $23-per-ton tax on carbon emissions from energy industry operations. Some portion of the proposed tax, Bloomberg BNA reports, could be dedicated to increasing incentives for carbon capture and storage and clean technology and to assistance for low-income families affected by an uptick in energy costs related to putting a price on carbon.

“It really attempts to capture the political energy of the moment,” said Curbelo, who would not go into details about the pending legislation. “We know that infrastructure investment is highly popular in our country. It’s probably the only issue that [President] Trump and [Democratic nominee Hillary] Clinton agreed on in 2016.”

Tuesday, in a meeting of the House Rules Committee, the pending Curbelo bill came up during a debate over the Scalise and McKinley anti-carbon-tax resolution, which the committee passed in a 7-3 vote along party lines. A vote on that resolution by the House could come as early as Thursday.

A special issue in the journal Energy Economics highlights carbon tax modeling studies conducted through the Stanford Energy Modeling Forum Project. The issue includes an overview of the results co-authored by Brian Murray of the Duke University Energy Initiative and a faculty affiliate at the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and an article on carbon tax implications for market trends and generation costs by my Nicholas Institute colleague Martin Ross. Comparison of the modeling studies’ results revealed similar conclusions: that a carbon tax is effective at reducing carbon pollution, although the structure of the tax and rate at which it rises are important, and that a revenue-neutral carbon tax would have a modest impact on gross domestic product. Even the most ambitious carbon tax was found to be consistent with long-term positive economic growth.

China, EU Renew Commitments to Meet Paris Climate Commitments

China and the European Union (EU) on Monday reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris Agreement to limit global warming, issuing a joint statement in which they also vow to work together in that pursuit. Amid fear that U.S. withdrawal from the agreement could undermine global cooperation on climate change, the statement issued at the 20th EU-China summit in Beijing said the climate accord is proof that “multilateralism can succeed in building fair and effective solutions to the most critical global problems of our time.”

The statement included plans to push for an agreement on a rulebook for the Paris Agreement after negotiations stalled this year; to release long-term, low-carbon development strategies by 2020; and to increase each side’s efforts before 2020; and to exchange knowledge on clean energy.

Notably, the joint statement extends cooperation on emissions trading schemes. China’s carbon market, which launched late last year, will, when fully implemented, be the largest in the world, covering an estimated 4 billion metric tons of emissions.

China, which has already met its 2020 target for carbon intensity, and the EU, which has met its 2020 emissions reduction target, also renewed their commitment to create a mechanism to transfer $100 billion a year from richer to poorer nations to assist them with climate change adaptation.

California Beats 2020 Emissions Target; Work Left on Transportation

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) released data revealing a decrease of approximately 2.7 percent in the state’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2016—a decrease that dropped the state’s emissions below 1990 levels four years earlier than the state’s 2020 target date specified in Assembly Bill 32.

The emissions reductions owe to a mix of state-level measures that include a mandate that a certain fraction of electricity come from renewable resourcesregulation of vehicle emissions, and a carbon pricing and trading program shared with Quebec.

There was an exception to the downward emissions trajectory. The state’s transportation emissions continue to rise. Right now, the Trump administration has plans to ease the corporate average fuel economy, or CAFE standards. California has vowed to stick to its own, stricter standards authorized under the Clean Air Act, but if miles-per-gallon targets for the state are rolled back, California’s transportation emissions could rise further.

For months, the state has been in conversations with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) about its vehicle emissions rules, which several other states (most recently, Colorado) follow. Earlier this week, the newly nominated EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler met with top California officials about the matter. Although CARB Chair Mary Nichols called the meeting “pleasant,” she said “in terms of if there is a difference between Wheeler and Pruitt on these issues, I have yet to see any. It’s not better or worse; it’s the same.”

The Climate Post offers a rundown of the week in climate and energy news. It is produced each Thursday by Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.

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