Several prominent local organizations are praising the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s decision to support a market-based approach to accelerate fossil fuel emissions reduction to address climate change, which may give more momentum to calls for the oil and gas industry to pay a carbon tax.
In January, Martin Durbin, the president of the Chamber of Commerce’s Global Energy Institute, wrote that the chamber was adding language to its official position on climate change.
The chamber says it now supports a market-based approach to accelerate greenhouse gas emissions reductions across the U.S. economy.
“Of course, some of our members have endorsed specific policy proposals within the realm of market-based approaches. While the Chamber is not endorsing any specific proposals at this time, this update to our climate position is not intended to exclude any of those options, but rather to strengthen overall support for market-based solutions,” Durbin wrote.
The Jacksonville chapter of the Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL), a volunteer-driven nonpartisan nonprofit organization focused on climate change solutions, is taking the Chamber’s new stance as a tacit endorsement of a carbon tax.
“Endorsing ‘market-based’ climate policy indicates support for carbon pricing, which is the type of policy local members of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby want Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, as well as Rep. John Rutherford, to support,” University of North Florida biology professor Adam Rosenblatt, a co-founder of the local CCL chapter, wrote in an email to WJCT News.
The CCL is specifically calling on elected officials to support the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, which already has bipartisan support, including from members of the new presidential administration.
The bill would put a price on carbon that would be paid by the oil and gas industry. The government would collect that money, then redistribute it equally to all American citizens as a rebate.
“The U.S. Chamber represents many major American corporations. We are glad to see them recognize this is a solution that works for people, the planet, and businesses,” said Kyle Kammien, Senior Business Relations Representative for Citizens’ Climate Lobby. “Their stance will help build more support in Congress for a durable, bipartisan climate solution.”
Carbon pricing proposals like the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act are gaining support among local small business owners, like Chris Phillips, the owner of Mosquito Joe of the First Coast.
“Small businesses are the backbone of Jacksonville’s economy, but climate change brings extreme weather and unpredictability which are a threat to normal business operations. That’s why it’s so exciting to see the U.S. Chamber speaking up and supporting climate action,” Phillips said. “I hope the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce agrees with its national counterpart and will urge Rubio, Scott and Rutherford to support a carbon price.”
Matt Galnor, Chief Public Affairs Officer for the JAX Chamber, told WJCT News in an email that the chamber has not “taken a position on this issue.”
However, the North Florida Green Chamber of Commerce has come out in full support of the U.S. Chamber’s new stance on climate change policy.
"Climate action is a primary focus of the North Florida Green Chamber of Commerce. We support all efforts, here in Jacksonville, and at a state and federal level to engage in immediate action to reduce emissions. We are encouraged to see influential business groups, like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, engaging on this critical issue,” said Mary Tappouni, North Florida Green Chamber Board Chair. “The Green Chamber and our member companies will continue to lead on sustainability, demonstrating to all businesses that you can be profitable while also being environmentally and socially responsible.”