Shifting public policy to achieve a sustainable economy, a healthy environment and a just society.


About Climate Policy

States have often been seen as laboratories of democracy, taking the lead in areas that subsequently become models for national action. Right now, many states are moving toward creative policies that simultaneously protect public health and the environment while reducing budget deficits and creating jobs. Policies that address climate change are one such initiative succeeding at the state level.

Redefining Progress’s climate policy initiative is called the Climate Asset Plan (CAP). CAP limits global warming and other pollution at the state level while promoting broadly shared growth in employment and the economy. We currently focus our work in California, Illinois and New York and the Northeast.

While our proposals are unique to each state, they are all based on similar principles:

Common Assets

A healthy climate, like other natural resources, is a common asset—a community right and a community responsibility. But this common asset is in danger of being privatized and depleted. The common assets framework reclaims shared resources as the basis for common wealth. Shifting the marketplace to account for the atmosphere’s economic value is essential to a healthy environment, a vibrant economy, and a just society. This idea is the basis of the Climate Asset Plan.

Efficient Environmental Protection

The CAP starts with market-based approaches to reducing air pollution, such as pollution fees or the sale of emission allowances. By putting a price on pollution, these systems encourage producers to find new, low-cost ways to reduce emissions, thus creating greater opportunities for sustainable growth.

Investment in the State Economy

Using revenues from pollution fees or the sale of emission allowances, the CAP provides a dedicated revenue stream to invest in strengthening the state’s economy. Even a modest approach can produce millions of dollars every year that can be invested in new clean energy technologies, and in basic needs such as transportation, education, health care, and other critical services. These non-tax revenues can also help reduce budget deficits.

Broadly Shared Benefits

Like any other transition, moving to a low-carbon economy produces both costs and benefits. While benefits clearly outweigh the costs, we ensure that they are broadly shared by all. To this end, our proposals are explicitly designed to not only prevent low-income and working families from bearing an undue share of the costs, but also ensure that they share equally in the benefits. In this way, we ensure impacted industries and their workers have a path to an economically healthy future.

Learn More

For a more detailed statement of climate policy principles and applications, download these publications:

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Photo courtesy Reiner Kraft