As environmentalists, activists and concerned citizens, we have sat on the sidelines for too long as progress on climate remained stagnant. Another legislative session has ended without any meaningful action on climate and it’s beginning to feel like déjà vu all over again. The sudden announcement from Gov. Jay Inslee last month regarding the development of a regulatory cap on carbon emissions is encouraging but still leaves us with uncertainty as to the scope, timing and ultimate effectiveness of this tool. Regulatory control is a long, hard road with lots of challenges, but totally consistent with a carbon tax.
We believe a revenue-neutral carbon tax is the easiest, fairest way to get started.
The time for sitting, waiting and watching has long since passed. Carbon Washington's Initiative 732 offers a significant way forward on climate action.
The campaign, from the outset, made the decision to invest in volunteers, leadership training and providing Washingtonians the necessary tools to make this campaign their own. Instead of lobbyists and wealthy donors, we have teams of volunteer activists and community leaders spreading the word about I-732. Carbon Washington currently boasts 25 volunteer chapters in the state—from Yakima to Vancouver, Ellensburg to Port Townsend—all made up of citizens who are tired of waiting for someone else to solve climate change.
Carbon Washington is a campaign that wants to bridge the partisan gap on climate and I-732 offers consensus amidst a political environment of intense partisanship. Our policy would institute a carbon tax of $25 per ton of CO2 emissions, which would be the strongest carbon price in the nation, and then use the revenue to reduce the regressivity of Washington’s tax code. According to the federal Energy Information Administration, a national $25 carbon fee, rising at a rate of 5 percent a year, would result in a reduction of emissions in the electricity sector by 89 percent by 2040. By instituting a strong, transparent price on carbon, we can ensure significant carbon reductions.
I-732 would reduce carbon emissions by changing the economic incentives that underpin our energy system. It is based on the revenue-neutral tax introduced by a right-of-center government in British Columbia, where emissions numbers have declined by 16 percent since its inception in 2008.
I-732 would fund the Working Families Rebate and cut the sales tax by one full percentage point, making Washington’s tax code significantly fairer, thereby contributing to a noticeable improvement to economic inequality in Washington. For manufacturers, I-732 would swap the state business & occupation tax for a carbon tax. This would ensure we keep the playing field level for energy intensive businesses, while also giving them the incentive to reduce their carbon consumption. Additionally, revenue neutrality allows the progressive community to create space for centrists and conservatives to say "yes" on climate, finally making climate change a bipartisan issue.
I-732 embodies the essence of compromise; while not everyone will get the exact policy they want, we can move forward on a policy that would seriously improve Washington state.
Our best moments in this country have come from citizen-led movements. The Civil Rights Act, women’s suffrage movement and Earth Day were born out of restive citizens who got organized and took it upon themselves to improve their nation.
Carbon Washington is building that movement around climate change and we need you to be a part of it. The campaign just passed the 100,000-signature mark, and we can proudly say this is what positive progress on climate looks like. Over 100,000 people have joined our grassroots movement to put a price on carbon, and the number keeps climbing. I-732 is a way for all Washingtonians to act on climate. The campaign needs 315,000 signatures by the end of the year in order to be sent to the state Legislature in January. If the Legislature refuses to pass it, the initiative would then be on the November 2016 ballot.