As the student body presidents of Carmel High School and Jasper High School — the alma maters, respectively, of Indiana Sens. Todd Young and Mike Braun — we are honored to see our schools’ alumni representing us in the U.S. Senate. They make us proud to walk our schools’ hallways and serve as inspiration for how we can lead lives of public service.
This same spirit of leadership and serving the national interest is why we are writing with an important message: it is high time for them to join us in supporting concrete action on climate change.
In our view, few issues are more important. A stable environment is essential for a strong economy and expanding job opportunities for all Americans, and especially our generation, well into the future. That’s why we are proud to be among more than 700 high school leaders across the country, and from all 50 states, who launched High Schoolers for Carbon Dividends.
Our fellow co-founders include student government presidents, sports captains and club leaders of all types, as well as the nation’s top debate, spelling bee and science competition champions. Despite a range of life experiences and political perspectives, we are uniting to urge action and build support around the bipartisan solution known as carbon dividends.
Popularized by former Republican Secretaries of State James A. Baker III and the late George P. Shultz, the carbon dividends strategy has earned the endorsement of business and environmental leaders alike.
The plan is simple. It would charge fossil fuel companies a fee for their emissions and return the money collected to Americans in the form of direct checks. This would create an incentive to innovate new technologies and speed transition to clean energy, all while putting money back in the pockets of everyday Hoosiers.
Here in Indiana, the carbon dividends plan is quickly gaining steam as the leading market-based climate solution. It has earned the support of companies like General Motors and Ford — both major job creators in our state — as well as mayors, young Republican leaders, student body presidents, economists, GOP state representatives and more.
The carbon dividends approach appeals to so many because it would clean the environment while also growing the economy. According to an independent assessment, the carbon dividends plan would generate over $1.4 trillion in clean energy investments and help cut emissions in half in the next 10 years, all while creating hundreds of thousands of jobs here at home.
Particularly important for Indiana, the plan also recognizes that climate change is an international problem, and that U.S. action alone — especially if countries like China, Russia, and India remain on the sidelines — is not a viable approach.
Instead, the plan would charge a fee, at the border, on the carbon content of overseas goods — a tool known as a “border carbon adjustment.” This would hold foreign nations accountable for their pollution and incentivize them to do their part.
Luckily, Hoosier congressional representatives are already beginning to step forward. Braun, who’s a respected voice in Congress on the climate topic, just steered the Growing Climate Solutions Act through the Senate with an impressive 92 votes. Further, alongside more than 50 fellow GOP House members, Reps. Baird and Bucshon recently joined a new conservative caucus focused on environmental solutions. Leadership like this indicates that our representatives are starting to take this challenge seriously.
What’s most important, though, is implementing solutions that go the distance. With climate change, we don’t get an A for effort. We only get an A for results.
That’s why a solution like carbon dividends is so essential, and why student leaders across the country are stepping up to ensure its adoption. While we may not yet be in the halls of Congress, we are getting to work from the halls of our schools. We may be young, but we know the time to move is now.
Ellis Nou, student body president at Carmel High School, and Brooklyn Coultas, student body president at Jasper High School