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Presidents Ask for Carbon Pricing

May 10, 2017

More than 30 college and university presidents have weighed in on climate change policy, signing a letter asking state and federal elected officials to try to put in place some type of carbon pricing to charge for greenhouse gas emissions.

Presidents of Dickinson, Pitzer, Swarthmore and Vassar Colleges, as well as Wesleyan University and the University of California, Berkeley, are among those signing the letter. It says that climate change makes students’ futures uncertain and that carbon pricing is a step that can fight climate change.

“Colleges and universities are well positioned to address the challenge of climate change by producing and sharing conclusive research on climate change and by educating our students and society about innovative solutions that can mitigate climate change,” Valerie Smith, president of Swarthmore College, said in a statement. “Carbon pricing provides an opportunity to make an impact on a national, and potentially global, level.”

Carbon pricing mechanisms include carbon taxes and carbon caps. A carbon tax charges a price for a set amount of emissions. A carbon cap requires companies to purchase permits or allowances for their emissions. The idea is that the mechanisms create an economic incentive for reducing greenhouse gas emissions while also capturing some external costs that aren’t normally captured in fossil fuel prices -- external costs such as flood damage or crop loss.

The college and university presidents signed the letter as part of an effort known as the Higher Education Carbon Pricing Endorsement Initiative. It is being led by the organization Our Climate, which advocates for carbon pricing.

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Rick Seltzer

Rick Seltzer, Projects Editor, oversaw special projects and coordinated daily production for Inside Higher Ed from 2019 through May 2021. He joined the publication in 2016, covering finance and management. Previously, he worked as a reporter for The Baltimore Business Journal, The Bloomington Herald-Times, the Central New York Business Journal and The Harrisburg Patriot-News. He has covered numerous business, municipal, government and general assignment beats. Rick graduated from Syracuse University in 2008.

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