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Ramez Naam

The Stranger, Seattle’s popular alternative newspaper, recently endorsed Initiative 732. Then four members of the committee that makes the endorsements published a dissenting view.

Interestingly, one of the four, Sydney Brownstone, wrote an article last year underscoring the importance of dealing with climate change now. “If we do nothing,” she wrote, “the neighborhoods of South Park and Georgetown — including Boeing Field — will be flooding daily by 2104, according to scientific projections.”  (more…)

The Yes on 732 campaign thanks the businesses that have shown their support for promoting clean energy and fighting climate change:

Allumia endorses I-732! We applaud the hard work of CarbonWA and the many volunteers who have created the opportunity to pass legislation that will equitably internalize the negative externalities of regional carbon emissions and set the stage for more companies, states, regions, and countries to do the same.


Kronos, Vashon Island

Thrive Café

Richard Britz, Architect and Planner

Vashon Rider Rehab and Consulting

Get the details behind the nation’s first carbon tax swap

This fall, Washington voters will decide whether to pass I-732, an initiative that tackles the root causes of climate change while making our tax system fairer overall. The world is warming at an alarming rate, and putting an effective price on carbon emissions is the single most important thing we can do to reverse this trend. These news stories will help you understand why voting Yes on I-732 will move the state toward two goals: cleaner energy and fairer taxes.

There’s a cheap, proven fix to the world’s biggest problem

  • Washington’s Initiative-732 would make a bad thing — pollution — more expensive by putting a tax on each ton of carbon dioxide created by cars, power plants and the like.

More importantly, doing so would throw economic muscle behind clean energy, shorter commutes, cleaner air and smarter cities. It would use the market, not regulations, to choose winners and losers in the clean tech race. It would help Washington state, in the apt words of the initiative’s promoters, fulfill its moral responsibility to leave a livable planet for future generations. And it plans do so without wrecking the economy or growing government.

“Carbon Washington’s proposal is a brilliant first step.”

  • “This is an example of what a carbon tax ought to look like,” said Shi-Ling Hsu, associate dean for environmental programs at Florida State University’s law school and author of “The Case for a Carbon Tax.”
  • “It’s a well-designed policy,” said Adele Morris, senior fellow and the policy director for the Climate and Energy Economics Project at the Brookings Institution. “It makes a lot of sense for Washington — and I hope voters give it a chance.”

It could be the nation’s first carbon tax. And environmentalists are fighting over it

  • While support from individual politicians has come largely from Democrats in the legislature, the initiative has garnered endorsements from a few key Republican state senators as well. It’s also gained substantial support from the scientific community. Last week, more than 50 climate scientists from the University of Washington published an open letter expressing their support for Initiative 732.
  • “The message that we heard over and over from people was one of urgency,” she said. “People felt like they did not have time to wait for another solution. This is the only initiative on our ballot. It does what we need it to do, which is reduce the carbon emissions that are causing climate change. …I think for Audubon, climate policy isn’t really about money. It really is about what will reduce the carbon emissions.”
  • As crunch time nears, a group of millennials from the I-732 campaign have published an open letter to the leaders of some of the national groups that have failed to support the initiative, calling on them to change their stance. Should the initiative pass, Bauman hopes that it will lead to similar measures on a national scale.
  • “We think we have a great shot at winning a policy that’s not only going to make a big difference in Washington State, but that can potentially set the stage for bipartisan action nationally,” he said.

Time for a carbon tax? A former Bush official says yes

  • Voters in Washington state may show the way  Nov. 8 when they decide on a referendum that would assess a carbon tax on coal, oil and natural gas, a move aimed at lowering emissions that contribute to climate change without digging deeply into people’s wallets.
  • Backed by a campaign called Carbon Washington, the initiative is designed to be revenue-neutral, gradually increasing the carbon tax while reducing sales and other state taxes. A similar levy was established by neighboring British Columbia in 2008.
  • Clay Sell, a former top energy official under President George W. Bush … told a Washington, D.C., audience the other day that it’s time to end  the political debate over the cause of climate change and address the phenomenon with a business-friendly policy.

“I think there are some lessons that could be learned from the initiative in Washington state about a revenue-neutral carbon tax.”

  • “The great challenge for the next administration using the bully pulpit will be to end this fiction, act upon the science and design a carbon pricing scheme that will provide the certainty and efficiency that energy investors desire.”
  • “I hope both (political) parties will take that up, as it will allow the benefits of all clean energy technologies to be properly valued in the marketplace.”

Most of these products have to compete with subsidized biofuels for their feedstock even though they displacing far more carbon emissions.
Subsidies intended to increase renewable fuels or displace fossil fuels most often fail. They don’t consider the consequences of the subsidy on other carbon-altering processes. I-732, on the other hand, impacts market values and costs proportional to the level of fossil emissions.

  • The I-732 carbon tax motivates the market to use resources where they will displace the most emissions.
  • Subsidies that single out specific uses, such as producing biofuels like ethanol, provide an incentive for the lowest-valued use of the resource.
    • For instance, subsidies enable biofuel producers to outbid composite panels for the feedstock — even though composite panels and other composite materials displace far more emissions than the subsidized biofuel.
  • The well-intentioned renewable fuel standards in many states result in greater use of woody biomass by utilities. At the same time, they fragment the supply source and displace investments in wood facilities that can displace greater amounts of emissions.

Image: Most of these products have to compete with subsidized biofuels for their feedstock even though they displace far more carbon emissions.

jobs, timber and rural economies will be restoredI-732 provides the best path to sustainably reduce carbon emissions. It will restore rural economic activity relating to timber — plus many jobs lost since the 2008 recession.

Producers of lumber, plywood, oriented strandboard, and engineered wood products have supported as many as 45,000 direct jobs and another 180,000 indirect positions in Washington. (Those include buyers and sellers of their product such as prefabricators and the building trades.) These sectors will see new opportunities to use wood resources to displace fossil-intensive products — offsetting their lack of participation in the slow economic recovery since the 2008 recession.

  • The increased demand for wood that results from the I-732 carbon tax will support restoration of many of the rural jobs lost since the 2008 recession. This will help close the large gap between high unemployment in rural areas and lower unemployment in the largest cities.
  • Wood-processing positions will increase with the increasing demand to displace fossil-intensive uses.
  • Forestry and rural transportation jobs will increase with the higher demand for wood products — as well as the collection of underutilized wood fiber — made viable with the increase in their value.

I-732 will improve forest managementThe increased price for wood products in response to the I-732 cost increase for fossil intensive products will motivate improvements in forest management, forest restoration and forest health.

  • I-732 enhances the ability to pay for removing more forest residuals in fire prone Eastern forests, resulting in less destructive fires.
  • The increased value in thinings of overly dense stands will reduce overly dense stands and improve Forest Health
  • The cost of forest restoration is reduced by the increased market value for forest residuals.
  • The increased demand for wood products will also make investments in forest regeneration and restoration more attractive.

Too many different carbon pools for effective carbon offset trades — each requiring unique rules!
Carbon caps and carbon offset trades are often considered the best way to reduce emissions at the lowest cost. But they fail to consider the many different uses of wood that displace more emissions than are considered in the trade.

Every living thing and manufacturing process alters carbon. But the certification of carbon reductions from making a trade do not consider the wide array of potential alternatives preventing the best uses of the material to displace more emissions.

  • With sustainable forest growth and production of wood products that displace fossil intensive products, the reduction of carbon in the atmosphere is sustained year after year without requiring difficult and costly — if not impossible — accountability measures.
  • Paying a tree farmer to not harvest for the additional carbon that can be stored in the forest before the stand reaches its carrying capacity prevents best uses of the material to displace the most fossil emissions.
  • Paying foreign countries to grow trees that can offset U.S. fossil emissions directs capital to uncontrolled entities while providing no accountability that the tree growth truly captures additional carbon. It also fails to acknowledge that carbon in forests is a one-time contribution that stops when the decay in a maturing forest catches up to new growth.

Yes On 732

I-732 is the most important climate vote in the nation 

There’s good news internationally on the climate front (last month’s news about the Paris accord, plus yesterday’s deal to phase out HFCs) and we can keep the good news rolling by passing I-732…

…because everyone from President Obama to economists everywhere agree that putting a price on carbon is the single most important thing we can do to take action on climate change;

 …because I-732 would (in the words of an MIT expert) “certainly be one of the most aggressive — if not the most aggressive — carbon taxes that we have on the books globally”;

…and because I-732 shows the path forward for bipartisan climate action: “the most important thing” according to Democratic strategist Mark Mellman.

That’s why I-732 is the most important climate vote in the nation… and people are starting to get the message:






UW scientists “deeply concerned about the consequences of man-made climate change” call I-732 “a major step in the right direction.”

SEATTLE, October 10, 2016 – More than fifty climate scientists from the University of Washington signed an open letter advocating their support for Initiative 732 (, a revenue neutral carbon tax swap that will be on the ballot in Washington State this November. These scientists are world-leaders in the study of climate change and the profound impacts of rising levels of greenhouse gases, such as CO2, in the atmosphere.


Here is the VIP list of confirmed attendees
Tickets to the VIP section are limited

Cliff Mass – Meteorologist and Climatologist


  • Rep. Jessyn Farrell (D)
  • Senator Joe Fain (R)
  • Rep. Gerry Pollet (D)
  • Senator Mark Miloscia (R) – Candidate for State Auditor
  • Rep. Jake Fey (D)

Business Leaders

  • Howard Behar – Former President of Starbucks
  • David Giuliani – Inventor of Sonicare

Organizational Leaders

  • Gail Gatton – Audubon Washington Executive Director
  • Jennifer Syrowitz – Audubon Washington Chapter Conservation Manager
  • Bruce Agnew – Cascadia Center Director

Carbon Washington Executive Committee Members

  • Yoram Bauman, Co-Chair – Environmental Economist Ph.D.
  • Joe Ryan, Co-Chair – Retired Environmental Attorney
  • Kyle Murphy, Campaign Co-Director – Campaign Professional | Founder Divest UW
  • Duncan Clauson, Campaign Co-Director – Environmental Policy MPA
  • Greg Rock, Legislative Outreach – Sustainable Energy Engineer M.Sc.
  • Kate Pflaumer, Retired United States Attorney
  • Sharon Nelson – Retired Utilities and Transportation Commission Chairman
  • Mike Massa – Technology & Engineering Professional
  • Menno van Wyk – Retired CEO Montrail, Inc

Honorary Guests Attending in Spirit

  • Jim McDermott – Congressman (D)
  • Senator Maralyn Chase (D)
  • Representative Joe Fitzgibbon (D)
  • Ramez Naam – Author, Speaker, Futurist