What do ExxonMobil, Stephen Hawking, the Nature Conservancy, and Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of Treasury and Chief of Staff have in common? All have signed on as founding members to the Climate Leadership Council, which has met with the White House to propose a revenue-neutral carbon tax policy.
The group started with impeccable conservative credentials, bringing on cabinet members from the last three Republican presidential administrations (Ronald Reagan, George HW Bush, and George W Bush): two former Secretaries of State, two former Secretaries of Treasury, and two former chairmen of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors. It was founded by Ted Halstead, who explained the group’s proposed policy in a TED talk:
Some of the world’s brightest scientific and economic minds have since become founding members, including Stephen Hawking, Steven Chu, Martin Feldstein, and Lawrence Summers. So have ExxonMobil, BP, and Shell. But it’s not just the oil industry joining the call for a carbon tax; GM, Proctor & Gamble, Pepsico, and Johnson & Johnson are among the major companies signing on. As have environmental groups like the Nature Conservancy.
However, the most conservative voters (i.e. the Republican base) have the lowest support for this (or any) proposed climate policy. And the Koch brothers and their vast network of allies – who have essentially bought many Republican policymakers through political donations – squarely oppose all climate policies. Those two factors likely explain why 22 oil-funded Republican senators encouraged Trump to withdraw from the Paris climate treaty, while very few of the party’s politicians objected to that stupid, historically irresponsible move. Instead of looking for solutions to the existential climate threat we face, they’re stuck in denial.