Building political support for carbon pricing

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019

New insights from professor Leigh Raymond (Political Science) on the benefits of a carbon pricing policy appeared in a policy brief from the Smart Prosperity Institute, a national research network and policy think tank based at the University of Ottawa, Canada. The brief draws from Raymond’s fall 2018 research in Canada as a Fulbright Fellow as well as his earlier work. The brief’s main message? “Long running carbon pricing programs tend to generate tangible public benefits beyond emissions reductions that are distributed among citizens in a way that is broadly perceived as fair.” Raymond concludes that finding the policy design and communication strategy that will best improve public support for the policy requires careful attention to what concerns are most salient for particular groups affected by the new policy. For example, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which was the first major carbon pricing policy in the U.S., created and promoted tangible “consumer benefits” by investing in energy efficiency and other programs that lower consumers’ energy bills. In California, “public health benefits” aimed at improving local air quality and economic opportunity in disadvantaged communities were more important co-benefits to emphasize for passing carbon pricing legislation. In the European Union Emissions Trading System, revenues were focused on enabling greater “climate benefits” by investing in the development and adoption of no/low carbon technology. Here, reducing the threat of climate impacts was the most important public concern.

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