The idea of putting a price on carbon emissions has emerged as one way to reduce greenhouse gases in the U.S. – though advocates have disagreed among themselves about how this should happen. Widespread public support will be required to get Congress to act, and little will happen if advocates are not all pulling in the same direction. So, three years ago, environmental leaders asked Karuna Center to help them build consensus among themselves.
In July 2011, we facilitated a three-day “Green Summit,” where fifty environmental activists from across the country met to seek common ground on the need to price carbon emissions. Out of that summit, the Pricing Carbon Initiative (PCI) emerged. Rather than advocate a specific approach to pricing carbon, PCI has been building consensus around the idea that putting a price on carbon is a needed step – and an important piece in the climate solutions puzzle.
In the three years since the Green Summit, PCI has holding off-the-record discussions with a range of climate advocates, published policy authorities, Hill staff from both sides of the aisle and others. Despite the obvious hurdles presented by the current political climate, the idea of pricing carbon has found growing interest and bipartisan support.
But, as useful as these behind-the-scenes efforts are, policy changes will not gain traction without widespread, bipartisan citizen engagement and public pressure. So, the Pricing Carbon Initiative has asked the Karuna Center to help them design and launch a “national dialogue” in the U.S. about approaches to pricing carbon that will best serve the public good.
To prepare for what we hope will eventually become a broad-based public conversation, Karuna Center will hold regional workshops this fall to train community dialogue facilitators and provide them with ongoing mentorship. These local facilitators will engage schools, universities, faith-based organizations, business groups, civic groups, and environmental groups in local dialogues about pricing carbon. The local dialogues will occur along with other educational and awareness-raising events during national days of action this November 14, 15, and 16.
We hope that these many local efforts—conducted in the spirit of national dialogue, and disseminated and continued online—will facilitate widespread engagement in climate change solutions. By building a space for honest dialogue and mutual understanding, we believe that the practice of peacebuilding can create a better climate future.