13 october 2016

How a tax on carbon has divided Northwest climate activists

William Yardley,, October 13, 2016

On election day, less than a week after the historic Paris climate accord is set to take effect, voters here will have the chance to establish what some experts say would be one of the planet’s most ambitious policies for fighting climate change: the first statewide tax on carbon emissions.

“We’re looking to voters to turn out big in support of this and really set a historic precedent,” said Matthew Anderson, a National Audubon Society vice president for climate. “Getting a price on carbon through this mechanism, getting that on the books in the states, would really shift things significantly.”

It certainly would seem fitting. The progressive Pacific Northwest, evergreen and unencumbered by archaic debates about whether climate change is real, has long viewed itself as the leading edge of sustainability.

Yet whether it will lead the nation this time is far from clear.
Carbon Washington campaign organizer Ben Silesky leads a group of supporters into the elections office for the Washington secretary of State.

The ballot measure, meant to demonstrate the region’s environmental resolve, instead is revealing sharp division among activists over what climate policy should do and who it should benefit — foretelling, perhaps, struggles the rest of America could face as it confronts the challenges of climate policy.


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