CPW Memory Bank

The Carbon Pricing Workstream (CPW) Memory Bank is an online reference designed to give anyone interested in carbon pricing the basic information needed to productively engage in the CPW. Below you can find:

About the Carbon Pricing Workstream

The Carbon Pricing Workstream was an always-active venue for dialogue, analysis, and outcome-focused policy work relating to carbon pricing, which ran from 2014 through 2016. In 2015, a core group of volunteers, working through the CPW, helped to establish language defining universal principles for effective, efficient, equitable carbon pricing.

Learn more about the history of this work here.

Places to get information

CPW Timeline




Campaigns & Initiatives


Individually Determined National Commitments (INDC’s) can be found here.

Beyond COP21

  • April 15-15, 2016: World Bank Spring Meetings High-Level Dialogue
    • A lens to drive high-efficiency business model innovation as common practice.
    • A detailed, interactive and adaptive carbon pricing value chain assessment.
  • Now: New Framework
  • Future: Marrakesh Express

Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition

Citizens’ Climate Engagement Network

The Citizens’ Climate Engagement Network is a new global framework to support and expand direct citizen and stakeholder engagement in the intergovernmental climate negotiating process. It is the main achievement of the Pathway to Paris project—which was developed by Citizens’ Climate Education with the support of Citizens’ Climate Lobby volunteers, in collaboration with the UN Millennium Campaign and the World We Want platform.

Citizens’ Climate Lobby: The Pathway to Paris Project

In September 2014, Citizens’ Climate Lobby launched the Pathways to Paris initiative to bring stakeholders into the process of decision-making, build connections between organizations, governments, individuals and enterprise, and mount a coalition effort to secure an agreement to motivate carbon pricing country by country that follows clear standards:

  • A steady, resolute and rising carbon price.
  • Internalizing costs incrementally, steadily and with no leakage.
  • Simple, transparent, effective at reducing emissions.
  • Building economic value at the human scale.
  • Easy to implement: country by country, harmonizing across borders.

Those principles are now the engage4climate Core Principles for Carbon Pricing.

Source Documents

COP21 2015 Paris Climate Talks

Nov 30-Dec 12, 2015: COP21

EC3P Principles

E3CP carbon pricing sign-on letter to COP21 delegates with signatures (French, Spanish

  • Effective in reducing economy-wide absolute emissions while supporting domestic economic growth across all sectors;
  • Efficient at minimizing the cost of implementation while maximizing environmental, economic and social co-benefits;
  • Equitable by avoiding disproportionate burdens and protecting vulnerable populations from unjust or negative economic or environmental impacts while building economic value at the human scale for individuals and their communities.

FASTER Principles

The FASTER Principles for Successful Carbon Pricing (developed by The World Bank and OECD, in consultation with the IMF and strategic partners in The Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition):

  • Fairness
  • Alignment of Policies and Objectives
  • Stability and Predictability
  • Transparency
  • Efficiency and Cost-Effectiveness
  • Reliability and Environmental Integrity


State & Local


Massachusetts may be the first state to enact a carbon tax proposal. This is particularly interesting, because it would exist with their RGGI program. Dr. Marc Breslow, who with his colleagues at Hamel Environmental Consulting, REMI & Synapse Energy Economics have produced a very detailed report.  It is available here.  The plans coming forward are all revenue neutral fee and rebate type plans.


Vermont has shown interest in both a state and regional approach to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including a potential tax on carbon fuels.  Energy Independent Vermont is leading this effort. The Department of Public Service of the State of Vermont has released a Total Energy Study with policy options to move the state closer to its comprehensive goal to meet 90 percent of Vermont’s overall energy needs from renewable sources by 2050. The most prominent scenario is a tax on carbon, in addition to the RGGI program.  The revenue from the tax would be applied toward renewable energy and emission-reduction goals, according to the report.  In other discussions, the economy-wide carbon tax being considered is close to revenue neutral and is one part of a tax reform package that would align price signals with the cost of the carbon abatement used by some energy efficiency programs administrators across new England, including Vermont ($100/short ton).


In 2013, the Oregon state legislature passed a study bill on “the feasibility of imposing [a fee or tax on greenhouse gas emissions] as a new revenue option that would augment or replace portions of existing revenues.”  The study is being conducted by the Northwest Economic Research Center (NERC) and will be completed in November 2014.  They are currently looking at levels of taxation that, like the BC carbon tax, starts at $10 per ton of CO2.  But rather than ending at $30 a ton as British Columbia does, the Oregon tax would rise to $60 a ton over the next 20 years (by 2035).  They are considering including the electric sector, including out of state generation, and are currently working on a way to implement this approach.  Like Massachusetts, Oregon imports a substantial part of its fossil-fuel-fired electricity from outside of the state.  In their case, accounting for so-called “carbon by wire” more than doubles the carbon footprint associated with electricity use in state.  In early reporting, the NERC estimates that a BC-style carbon tax of $30 per ton of CO2 would generate about $1.2 billion a year, or about 8% of the state’s annual General Fund revenue.  They are studying both a revenue neutral approach and also one where 50 % of the revenue would be dedicated to corporate income tax cuts, 25% to personal income tax cuts, and 25% to targeted investments in home energy efficiency, industrial energy efficiency, and transportation infrastructure.   Goal is to reduce emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, then an additional 40% reduction by 2030.


On April 29, 2014 Governor Jay Inslee issued Executive Order 14-04, Washington Carbon Pollution Reduction and Clean Energy Leadership. The Executive Order created the Carbon Emissions Reduction Taskforce (CERT), charged with providing recommendations on how Washington State can meet its greenhouse gas emission limits through market mechanisms, such as trading, taxes, and incentives, in an effective and efficient manner.  Starting in June 29 of 2014, Washington began its own study, similar to this one, and including the use of the REMI model for their state economy.  The Governor is seeking advice on market policy options and related economic analysis, with the intent of designing a program that will maximize the benefits and minimize the costs of implementation, while considering the state’s specific emissions and energy sources, businesses and jobs, and community sectors.  The process will look at different types of economy-wide, multi-sector carbon markets and is to include work on a tax but also an evaluation of regional and state cap and trade markets.  CarbonWA is leading this effort and hopes for a vote this year.

New York

The New York State Carbon Tax effort, led by Sara Hsu of SUNY New Paltz and Mark Dunlea of the Green Education and Legal Fund, has evolved from a revenue neutral proposal into a combined tax credit and investment proposal, which would allow for tax credits to low income groups as well as for investment in the transition to clean energy, investment in infrastructure to reduce carbon emissions, and investment in projects for climate change adaptation.

Leaders of the effort are in the process of building a coalition centered on introducing a bill into the State Assembly. The coalition is comprised of economists, environmentalists, and labor groups, among others. The bill is expected to be introduced this fall.

A carbon tax offers a market-based solution to climate-altering fossil fuel emissions. Increasing the price of fossil fuels, while protecting the poor, sends a signal to the market to shift from fossil fuel-based energy sources to renewable energy sources, which are steadily becoming available and declining in price. Implementing a carbon tax is a proactive way to combat extreme temperatures and more powerful storms such as Hurricane Sandy.

Carbon taxes are supported by economists and environmentalists alike. As Bill McKibben of 350.org stated, “for a quarter century, economists left, right and center have said we’d benefit from making carbon carry the cost of the damage it causes. This will strengthen New York’s drive to be a leader in the coming green economy.” The New York State Carbon Tax initiative is calling for bipartisan support for the effort.

The Cuomo administration promotes the concept of letting the market determine how the energy system is transformed. “The reality is that the present system provides a $30 billion plus annual subsidy in NYS to the fossil fuel industry because taxpayers and consumers have to pay for the environmental and health damage it causes. A robust carbon tax is a critical step to ensure that the real costs of burning fossil fuels is paid for by polluters rather than taxpayers,” commented Mark Dunlea.

A carbon tax is viewed as an efficient way to cut fossil fuel usage while promoting renewable energy, and has been successfully implemented in other countries around the world. The New York State Carbon Tax effort in particular is gaining momentum.

To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/new-york-state-carbon-tax-effort-gains-momentum-according-to-network-for-sustainable-financial-markets-300115267.html

Studies & Reports

General Reports & Commentary from Policy Experts

Aldy, Joseph et al. Considering a Carbon Tax: Frequently Asked Questions. Issue brief no. 12-09. Resources for the Future, Nov. 2012. 

Chen, Yunguang, and Marc A.C. Hafstead. Using a Carbon Tax to Meet US International Climate Pledges. Discussion paper. Resources for the Future, Nov. 2016.

Cleetus, Rachel, Alison Bailie, and Steve Clemmer. The US Power Sector in a Net Zero World: Analyzing pathways for deep carbon reductions. Working paper. The Union of Concerned Scientists, Nov. 2016.

Dews, Fred. 10 things you should know about the carbon tax. Brookings Now. Brookings Institution, Feb. 2017.

Halstead, Ted. Unlocking The Climate Puzzle. White paper. New America & Climate Leadership Council, Jan. 2017.

Keohane, N., A. Petsonk, and A. Hanafi. Toward a club of carbon marketsClimatic Change (2015): 1-15. Springer Netherlands.

Morris, Adele. 11 essential questions for designing a policy to price carbon. Discussion draft no. 1. Brookings Institution, 8 July 2016.

Parry, Ian. The Right Price.  Finance & Development. Vol. 52. N. 4 (2015): 10-13. International Monetary Fund, 2015.

Petsonk, Annie and N. Keohane. Creating a Club of Carbon Markets: Implications of the Trade System. Think piece.  E15Initiative. Geneva: International Centre for Trade & Sustainable Development (ICTSD) and World Economic Forum, 2015.

Modeling/Projecting Carbon Pricing Impacts or Feasibility

Jenkins, Jesse D., and Valerie K. Karplus. Carbon pricing under binding political constraints. Working paper no. 44. UNU-WIDER, 2016. 

Parry, Ian, Chandara Veung, and Dirk Heine. How Much Carbon Pricing is in Countries’ Own Interests? The Critical Role of Co-Benefits. Working paper. International Monetary Fund, Sept. 2014.

Ummel, Kevin. Impact of CCL’s proposed carbon fee and dividend policy: A high-resolution analysis of the financial effect on U.S. households. Working paper no. 4. Citizens’ Climate Lobby, Apr. 2016.

Empirical Evaluations of Carbon Pricing Impacts

NOTE: Unlike “Modeling/Projecting Policy Impacts or Feasibility,” this section includes publications that estimate actual (not projected) impacts of existing carbon pricing policies.

Antweiler, Werner, and Sumeet Gulati. Frugal cars or frugal drivers? How carbon and fuel taxes influence the choice and use of cars. Rep. University of British Columbia, May 2016.

Murray, Brian C., and Nicholas Rivers. British Columbia’s Revenue-Neutral Carbon Tax: A Review of the Latest “Grand Experiment” in Environmental Policy. Working paper no. 4. Duke University, May 2015.

News Articles & Opinion

 A Price on Carbon May Be Coming Soon to the U.S.

Wall Street Journal — Sep 13, 2016
For years, U.S. politicians have debated whether to impose a price on carbon. The time may finally have come.

Why We Need a Carbon Tax, And Why It Won’t Be Enough

Environment 360 — Sep 12, 2016
Bill McKibben writes about why putting a price on carbon is an idea whose time has come, with even Big Oil signaling it may drop its long-standing opposition to a carbon tax. But the question is, has it come too late?

With More People Hitting the Road, It’s Time for a Carbon Tax

Washington Post — Sep 11, 2016
The Washington Post Editorial Board believes it would be better to establish a policy that encouraged individuals and businesses to account for the environmental impacts of driving, turning on the light switch, buying clothes or doing anything else that involves fossil fuels. This policy is a steadily rising carbon tax.

Tax carbon, California — the rest of the nation will thank you

Los Angeles Times — Aug 10, 2016
Michael Wara of Stanford Law School & Adele Morris from the Brookings Institution discuss in this oped why a well-designed carbon tax alternative could reclaim the mantle of national climate leadership for California, while also assuring continued emissions reductions, simplifying the state’s regulations and burnishing its reputation as a place to do business.

National Carbon Pricing Shouldn’t Be A Controversial Issue

Huffington Post Canada — Jul 22, 2016
At this week’s meeting of premiers in Whitehorse, the need for a national carbon price may once again be the subject of controversy.

Nearly Twenty Canadian Companies Sign On to Carbon Pricing …

World Bank Group — Jul 15, 2016
Nearly twenty Canadian companies signed on today to join the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition (CPLC).

CCL’s promise: Congress will pass a carbon fee bill by the end of 2017

Huffington Post — Jul 4, 2016
Citizens Climate Lobby’s executive director Mark Reynolds calls for passage of a fee & dividend bill in 2017.