Celebrating the Students for Carbon Dividends

The Students for Carbon Dividends launched last week with a bold video promoting a climate solution that prices carbon and returns revenue to Americans.

Celebrating the Students for Carbon Dividends

By Jim Tolbert, CCL Conservative Outreach Director

A new conservative voice came forward last week calling for a price on carbon: Students for Carbon Dividends. This coalition of 23 College Republican groups, along with six College Democrat groups and five college environmental groups, is calling for a gradually increasing revenue-neutral carbon tax where all of the fee is returned to Americans.

Young Republicans want GOP to lead on climate

Conservative Caucus members in Citizens’ Climate Lobby have always found that College Republicans and millennial Republicans are likely to engage in discussions on climate and energy policy. They often want to see the GOP adopt policies that actively address climate change while holding to their values. When members of CCL’s Conservative Caucus table at events, we are frequently approached by conservatives glad CCL is there and who want their party, the GOP, to take a leadership role in addressing climate change.  

Alex Posner, the 22-year-old founder of Students for Carbon Dividends, told The Atlantic, “I think a lot of young conservatives are frustrated by the false choice between no climate action and a big government regulatory scheme. They feel pressured that those are the only two options, and they’re hungry for a conservative pathway forward on climate.”

Posner added, “The other thing that’s unique here is that the elder statesmen of the Republican Party are kind of uniting with the younger generation, to press the middle generation to act on climate.” The “elder statesmen” he’s referencing are the founders of the Climate Leadership Council: Former Secretaries of State George Shultz and James Baker, former Secretary of Treasurey Hank Paulson, and others. The Students for Carbon Dividends are specifically endorsing the policy proposed by the Climate Leadership Council.

It is not the exact policy that Citizens’ Climate Lobby endorses, and we have solid reasons why our position is different. Despite these differences, CCL is very excited that the conservative luminaries from Climate Leadership Council and now conservative youth in the Students for Carbon Dividends support the idea of a revenue-neutral price on carbon, with dividends going back to Americans.

It was just one year ago in February 2017 that the Climate Leadership Council made a splash with guest columns and press coverage in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Forbes, US News & World Report, Scientific American, USA Today, Time, Washington Post, Fox Business, and many other media outlets. Then they followed up with a full page paid advertisement in the Wall Street Journal in June of 2017. These efforts built momentum for the climate conversation that’s happening right of center, which helps our own efforts as we build bipartisan consensus for climate legislation.

Connecting with College Republicans

Tactically, this initiative provides a great opening for CCL to connect with other College Republican groups in campuses across the United States. CCL members can speak at College Republican meetings, host joint events on campus with College Republicans, bring in speakers for the CR group, and host movie nights. Remember that the messenger is often as important as the message, so within CCL, our Conservative Caucus can help you find conservatives to approach these College Republicans.  

Executive Director Mark Reynolds said, “It’s right there in our core values: CCL is nonpartisan. That’s why we’re so excited to see young people from both parties pushing all our elected leaders to adopt effective climate solutions.” He added, “This is a wonderful opportunity for CCL members to continue building strong connections with other climate advocates, regardless of party.”

On staff, we are coordinating our communication with Students for Carbon Dividends and the Climate Leadership Council. If you want to reach out to one of the groups that are already engaged in the Students for Carbon Dividends, please email me at james (dot) tolbert (at) citizensclimate.org.

As a conservative member of Citizens’ Climate Lobby, I am both encouraged and called to further action by this initiative and these college students taking a stand for a revenue-neutral carbon dividend program. I hope you are too, and I look forward to supporting these growing relationships.

As Conservative Outreach Director, Jim Tolbert engages, recruits, retains, and activates conservatives within Citizens’ Climate Lobby. Doing so, he builds on 20 years on the board of the Michigan Chemistry Council, training as a geochemist, and a career helping Fortune 500 companies characterize and clean up contamination from historic spills of PCBs, chlorinated dioxide, and other pollutants.

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