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ASW joins largest student government statement in U.S. history, supporting carbon dividends

FILE PHOTO: Karla Gonzalez, a sophomore environmental science major, takes an informal meeting with her professor, Brent Olson. ASW signed a national statement in support of a climate change solution called carbon dividends — taking part in the largest student government statement in the country. (Liz Dobbins)

ASW signed a national statement in support of a climate change solution called carbon dividends — or carbon fee and dividend — earlier this summer. The statement is “the largest public declaration of student government presidents in US history,” according to a statement released by the schools.

The statement — issued by Students for Carbon Dividends — aims to bridge bipartisan differences to make positive change in the face of global warming. The group followed in the footsteps of last year’s Economists’ Statement on Carbon Dividends, which was “the largest number [of economists] to endorse any policy on any topic, ever.”

ASW President Obaid Barakzai’s signature added Westminster College’s student government to the list of over 350 other student governments throughout the United States. 

The statement primarily proposes a tax on carbon emissions created by the sale of fossil fuels to encourage clean energy alternatives. Most carbon dividend plans include returning that revenue to American households through either a monthly or quarterly check to stimulate the country’s economy. 

Canada and Switzerland adopted similar systems in 2008 and various plans have been proposed or endorsed by American political groups and politicians since. 

Many Utah school governments joined in signing the statement, including Brigham Young University, Utah Valley University and Weber State University. 

“Where our political leaders have been unwilling, or unable, to forge agreement around common-sense solutions, we on college campuses are showing them how it’s done,” students wrote. 

The student government presidents asked elected leaders of the country to work toward four main goals, including:

  • A steadily rising price on carbon to spur clean energy innovation and drive emissions reductions
  • Carbon dividend rebates to ensure revenue-neutrality and benefit American families
  • The streamlining of carbon regulations that are no longer necessary
  • Border-carbon adjustments to level the playing field for American workers and businesses and hold other countries accountable

“As young people, with decades of life ahead, we are clear-eyed about what climate disruption means for our generation,” the student leaders said in their statement. “That’s why we recognize the power of a consensus solution like carbon dividends to bridge partisan divides, protect our shared environment, and strengthen the economy.”  


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Marisa Cooper is a senior communication major with a psychology minor. She hopes to find a career path within public relations or journalism with time for a mindful work/life balance. As of late, she’s been exploring passions for embroidery, hiking, house plants and podcasts. Marisa is thrilled to take on the role of managing editor this year.

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