In a break from the established Republican party stance on climate change, a number of GOP icons, including former Secretaries of State James Baker III and George Shultz, and former Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson Jr., are quietly advocating that sitting Republican lawmakers take the issue of global warming seriously, through the implementation of a carbon-tax. This approach stands in stark contrast to the party’s traditional view on the subject, having not only repeatedly tried to ignore the issue, but have also actively tried to block greenhouse gas reduction efforts.

Dubbing their proposal “a conservative climate solution”, the trio contend that their carbon-tax is more in line with free-market principles, and would reduce the demand for fossil fuels as energy sources through higher market prices. The plan would impose a $40-per ton of carbon dioxide produced where the products that produce emissions enter the economy, such as at the mine for coal, at the well for oil, or at the port for imports. Imports from countries that lack similar greenhouse gas-reduction initiatives would also be subject to higher tariffs, while exports would be exempt under the tax.

The cost would be inevitably passed to the consumer through the resulting price increases on the end products, but would be offset through what the group calls an annual "carbon dividend", a reimbursement issued to households, at an estimated $2,000 for a family of four.

The group sees this tax proposal as a better alternative to increased regulations, with many of the environmental regulations put in place by the previous administration having been put on the chopping block by President Trump. This conservative climate solution is expected to receive heavy resistance from a Republican-dominated Congress, as many still oppose both the existing regulations and the implementation of new taxes. There is also disagreement as to whether or not the concept of a carbon tax would be effective in reducing carbon emissions to begin with. Regardless, this move by a group of prominent Republicans is being seen as positive progress.

“This represents the first time Republicans put forth a concrete, market-based climate solution,” says Ted Halstead, co-author of the proposal, and head of the Climate Leadership Council, the organization that is hosting the proposal. And while many lawmakers may still have their heads in the sand, at least some realize that there is indeed gold in them thar wind farms, as entrepreneurial visionaries such as Bill Gates and Elon Musk not only actually see a future, but also a lucrative one, in alternative energy. 

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