“A GROUP of prominent Republicans brought a refreshing message to Washington on Wednesday: Climate change is a threat that deserves serious attention, and the GOP should embrace smart ways of dealing with it. What sorts of ways? The group — which calls itself the Climate Leadership Council and includes two former secretaries of state, James A. Baker III and George P. Shultz; two former chairmen of the Council of Economic Advisers, Martin S. Feldstein and N. Gregory Mankiw; and former treasury secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. — has a carbon emissions-reduction plan ready to go. And it is excellent.

Instead of indulging in the fiction that carbon emissions will take care of themselves with minimal government intervention, these veteran Republican hands endorsed what economists insist is the best approach to dealing with the sprawling carbon emissions issue: a carbon tax. Put a price on the pollution, and businesses and consumers will change their behavior in thousands of ways that government regulators would not have predicted and could not have compelled. This process, driven by energy consumers, produces the largest carbon cuts for the buck. Its basic structure is also simple enough for most people to understand, and, since Congress would be writing it into the law, it could not easily change from president to president, as current regulations can.”