A senior GE official used a climate change forum at Harvard University on Friday to criticize the popular idea of placing a tax on carbon dioxide emissions as the best way to address climate change.


A carbon tax “that’s just not going to happen,” said Ann Klee, GE’s vice president of environment and health and safety, at the event, sitting next to the Obama administration’s former Environmental Protection Agency chief Gina McCarthy.

“The answer has to be the market,” Klee said, adding that the tax is not what industry wants, nor is it feasible. A carbon tax, sometimes referred to as a carbon fee or price, would force industry to pay for emitting greenhouse gas emissions. Proponents say it will encourage a transition away from fossil fuels, like coal and oil, and toward renewable energy resources like wind and solar.

Many scientists blame greenhouse gas emissions, principally carbon dioxide, for increasing the temperature of the Earth, resulting in more severe weather, drought, and flooding.

She said the answer to the issue surrounding carbon dioxide and the climate resides in advanced technology development driven by the market, not by picking “winners and losers.”

Klee was challenged immediately by Aaron Bernstein, Harvard’s director of the Center for Health and Global Environment, who pointed out that a number of states and regions are adopting carbon taxes and they are becoming more commonplace.

Klee said in response that “they are a factor, but they are not a driving factor.”

The idea of a carbon tax has been come up in recent weeks as Congress and President Trump mull passing major tax reform legislation this year.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina came out and endorsed a carbon tax last month at a climate change conference held at Yale University. He said he was working with Democrats on developing legislation.

“I’m a Republican. I believe that the greenhouse effect is real, that CO2 emissions generated by man is creating our greenhouse gas effect that traps heat, and the planet is warming,” said the senator in a transcript of his pre-recorded message to the conference. “A price on carbon — that’s the way to go in my view.”

A handful of conservative and free-market groups are also actively supporting a carbon tax, spurring the ire of a number of other conservative groups who oppose the tax.

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