UUC Climate Action Team Endorses Initiative 732

After a poll of our members, UUC’s Climate Action Team has decided to endorse Initiative 732, which would impose a carbon tax and use the revenue to make our state tax system less regressive. Twenty-six members of the team indicated support for the initiative with one opposed.  We urge our fellow UUC members to vote yes on the initiative November 8. Here’s why:

I-732 would:

  • Impose a carbon tax on firms emitting more than 10,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide.
  • Reduce the sales tax one percentage point, from 6.5% to 5.5%.
  • Fund a tax rebate of up to $1500 for 460,000 families eligible for the federal earned income tax credit.
  • Virtually eliminate the Business and Occupation Tax for manufacturers to keep them competitive with out-of-state firms not subject to a carbon tax.

Despite Washington state and United States government commitments to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, these emissions have been rising. Urgent action to rapidly reduce emissions is essential.

As 51 University of Washington climate scientists pointed out in an open letter supporting I-732, “today’s emissions will still be affecting the climate in a thousand years.” For future generations the cost of delay is enormous.

The UUC Climate Action Team’s endorsement of I-732 is in keeping with the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Statement of Conscience on the Threat of Global Warming/Climate Change. It emphasizes our moral obligation to protect future generations from climate change with personal, congregational, and denominational efforts, including to “Monitor, propose, and support legislation at the local and state level related to global warming/climate change and opportunities to reduce emissions…”

I-732’s provisions closely match the climate-action approach called for by The Movement for Black Lives, a group of 50 organizations representing thousands of Black people from across the country. The coalition calls for measures “Taxing ‘bads’ not ‘goods’: shift from sales taxes to taxing externalities such as environmental damage, and make this approach income-sensitized to hold low-income people harmless.”

The Climate Action Team considers I-732 an important first step in reducing CO2 emissions in Washington state. We recognize that many additional steps will be needed to fight climate change. These include programs to assist people most affected by climate change and those least able to afford measures to mitigate and adapt to it–disproportionately low-income families and people of color.

UUC remains a strong supporter and ally to several groups that oppose I-732. We can agree to disagree with them on I-732 and sustain our commitment to support them. The common ground between us is far broader and stronger than our disagreement on I-732.

For a thoughtful, independent analysis of the initiative, see Sightline (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3).

For more information from an organization opposing I-732, see Front and Centered.

For more information from I-732’s sponsor, see yeson732.org.

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