Press Conference: Announcing The Carbon Costs Coalition and Growing Business Support
by MARIA VIRGINIA OLANO
This morning legislators from nine states announced a new multi-state coalition to push for carbon pricing legislation. While most states focussed on new legislation in their announcement, here in Massachusetts the focus was on business support for pricing carbon. The support came in form of a letter signed by over 100 business leaders across the state. On Beacon Hill, our Executive Director Michael Green joined State Senator Michael Barrett and State Representative Jennifer Benson for the announcement earlier today in the State House.
In 2017, six Northeastern states proposed legislation that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by setting a price on carbon and in 2018 they were joined by bills introduced in Washington state and Oregon. Washington D.C. is also working on introducing a bill to the district council this year. This growing support for pricing carbon has spread across the country, with states taking the lead in innovation and climate action policy. Legislators who have introduced carbon pricing bills in their states have also joined together to form a coalition for sharing best practices, ideas and language to to collectively strengthen their efforts to pass these bills.
“It takes a coalition of people from all walks of life to make this happen” said Representative Benson at the press conference this morning, adding: “there is a fantastic group of states that are all trying to get this passed and working together to do so.”
There are currently two key bills in the Massachusetts legislature that focus on putting a fee on carbon pollution, one in the Senate and one in the House, which are sponsored by Senator Barrett and Representative Benson, respectively. The bills have gained 79 cosponsors, accounting for almost a third of the legislature. Senator Barrett said this morning that the bill is “on the cusp of success” and has a chance at passing through the senate before the end of this term.
“Currently, the price of electricity and fuel reflect little or none of the costs associated with health impacts, infrastructure damage or the security threats that come with their carbon emissions” said Michael Green. He also noted the extensive benefits pricing carbon would have on the state economy. An independent analysis found that under a carbon fee and rebate system in Massachusetts, Gross State Product would rise by over $600 million and over 12,000 jobs would be created once the price reaches $40 per ton. There is therefore a strong economic and business incentive to support these bills.
Michael Green brought to the hearing a copy of a letter that has been signed by over 100 business leaders, calling for the legislature to pass a carbon pricing bill. CABA has been at the forefront of making a business case for climate action and engaging local business owners to take part in solving the climate crisis.
“What CABA has done is address the fear that climate action will be detrimental to business and make certain that the voice of business is not lost in this conversation” said Senator Michael Barrett as he welcomed the multi-state coalition approach that has gained momentum as communities all over the world fight climate change with policy at the local level.
It is encouraging to see how far the idea of pricing carbon has come and how close it is to being realized. This morning’s announcements show the strength of a growing state-based national movement taking the lead on addressing carbon pollution using market forces. Massachusetts could – and should – be the first state in the Union to pass a bill that takes a fair, economy-wide approach to emissions reductions.
MARIA VIRGINIA OLANO POLICY AND RESEARCH FELLOW
Maria Virginia is a young professional with experience in non-profit and coalition organizing in the areas of disarmament and human rights. She is currently pursing a Masters degree in Security and Resilience Policy at Northeastern University, where she also completed her undergraduate degree in Political Science. During her time at Northeastern she studied abroad in Japan, India and Saudi Arabia and worked as a journalism intern in Bosnia Herzegovina and Turkey. She is passionate about travel and photography and in her free time loves to watch movies, eat lots of food and read.