The Climate Leadership Council (CLC) is an organization of former government officials, intellectuals, and businessmen who advocate for a carbon tax. The organization was founded in 2017 by the late Ted Halstead, an environmentalist activist and founder of the center-left think tank New America Foundation.  CLC is affiliated with the advocacy group Americans for Carbon Dividends (AFCD).
The CLC tries to sell its plan as a “conservative” plan because the carbon tax is “revenue neutral” and the plan was authored by former Republican officials.  But the CLC’s founding members and leadership include several members who are known for their center-left views.
In 2017, the CLC began advocating for a carbon tax proposal written by former Republican U.S. Secretaries of State James Baker and George Shultz. The plan proposes a gradually rising carbon tax with the proceeds being returned to the American people in the form of a “carbon dividend.” In exchange for implementing the carbon tax, all carbon regulations such as the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, would be repealed. 
A carbon tax would result in higher energy prices for American consumers. 
In addition to the carbon tax, a border adjustment tax would be imposed on countries that do not have a carbon tax. If an American company exported to a country with a carbon tax, it would receive a tax break from the American government. On the other hand, if an American company imported anything from a company that does not have a carbon tax, it would face a tariff. 
Baker Shultz Carbon Dividends Plan
In 2020, the Climate Leadership Council officially announced the proposal under the name “the Baker Shultz Carbon Dividends Plan.” The plan seeks to halve the amount of carbon dioxide emissions that was present in the atmosphere in 2005. Climate Leadership Council announced that it hopes to launch the Baker Shultz Carbon Dividend Plan in 2021 and plans to achieve the goals of this plan by 2035. 
In order to lower the amount of carbon emissions produced by U.S. companies, the plan proposes to tax companies at $40-per ton of carbon emissions. 
The Climate Leadership Council’s plan seeks to replace existing regulations on carbon emissions with a carbon tax or fee. The plan proposes that American companies should be taxed on the amount of carbon emitted in the transportation of products they are importing.
The plan furthermore proposes that the money gained from the carbon taxes on U.S. organizations should be distributed to American citizens. The Climate Leadership Council announced that one goal behind these carbon taxes is to provide American citizens with such carbon dividends. 
To discuss the outline of the Baker Shultz Carbon Dividends Plan, the Climate Leadership Council hosted a dinner with the Senate Climate Solution Caucus. Senior officials from Exxon Mobil, Ford Motor Co., and JPMorgan Chase & Co. also attended the dinner. 
Wall Street Journal Op-Ed
On September 22, 2019, Ted Halstead, founder of the Climate Leadership Council, and Christopher Crane, president and CEO of energy company Exelon (a member of the CLC), released an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal detailing a preview of the CLC’s “Bipartisan Roadmap.”  The goal of this plan would be to use carbon dividends as a means of cutting U.S. carbon emissions in half by 2035. The proposal would apply a carbon fee of $40 per ton of CO2, which would increase annually at 5% above inflation, and would displace all current or proposed carbon regulations. According to the op-ed, if initiated by 2021 the new plan would both achieve the 50% reduction in U.S. CO2 emission by 2035 as well as exceed the U.S.’s commitment under the Paris Agreement “by a wide margin” by 2025.  The article claims that about 70% of American families will benefit as they will recieve more in carbon dividends than the amount they would pay due to increased energy costs through the plan. 
ExxonMobil Removed from CLC
In August 2021, ExxonMobil was suspended from membership in both the CLC and its affiliated advocacy group, Americans for Carbon Dividends (AFCD).  The decision came after a lobbyist for ExxonMobil was recorded by undercover Greenpeace activists saying that his employers supported a carbon tax for publicity purposes .  McCoy claimed that a carbon tax serves as a climate-friendly “talking point.”  In response, ExxonMobil released a statement saying that the CLC’s decision is “disappointing and counterproductive,” and that the company would continue to address climate change on its own. 
Ted Halstead served as the chairman and CEO of CLC up until he passed away in September 2020.  He was the founder of the left-leaning New America Foundation, a think tank in Washington D.C.  In 2018, Halstead received total compensation of $356,188. 
Greg Bertelsen is the group’s executive vice president. His role includes reaching out to Congress and the business community. He previously worked at the National Association of Manufacturers and served as an adviser to the Environmental Protection Agency on environmental justice issues.  In 2018, Bertelsen received total compensation of $270,823. 
Simone Frank works as the group’s chief financial officer. She also serves as a senior adviser for the centrist Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. Previously, she worked at the New America Foundation.  In 2018, Frank received total compensation of $105,840. 
Jill L. Sigal is CLC’s executive vice president; she was briefly the organization’s board president, until April 2018. She previously worked as Acting Assistant Secretary of Energy in the Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs; in 2005, she was nominated by President George W. Bush to serve as Assistant Secretary of Energy to the Bush administration.  In 2018, Sigal received total compensation of $141,668. 
Catrina Rorke is a CLC vice president. She is an associate fellow for the right-leaning R Street Institute, a think tank, where she founded the group’s energy program. Prior to that, she was a fellow at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and was a staffer for the liberal Republican Rep. Bob Inglis (SC), who lost his seat in 2010 largely due to his views on manmade global warming.  In 2018, she received total compensation of $112,401. 
Taiya Smith is director of CLC’s China Program. In 2018, she received total compensation of $284,669. 
Board of Directors
Board member Juleanna Glover is a lobbyist who is a former staffer in the President George W. Bush administration.
Craig McCaw also serves on the board of the Hoover Institution and was the former chair of The Nature Conservancy. McCaw’s private foundation, the Craig and Susan McCaw Foundation, granted $500,000 to CLC in 2017. 
Martin “Marty” Kaplan is a former chair of the Massachusetts Board of Education. Kaplan was a trustee for the Germeshausen Foundation, a major funder of CLC, from the 1980s to approximately 2014. 
Gary Rieschel is the founding partner of Qiming Venture Partners, one of China’s largest venture capital firms.
Tom Stephenson is a former CLC board member, serving until January 2018.
Kathryn Murdoch is a CLC board member (starting in December 2018). Murdoch is the daughter-in-law of conservative mega-donor Rupert Murdoch and a climate change activist. She and her husband, James Murdoch, have been characterized by the New York Times as “claiming their independence from the more conservative arm of the family.” 
Founding Members and Strategic Partners
CLC has a long list of founding members including corporations, nongovernmental organizations, and former government officials. Among the corporations supporting CLC are AECOM, Allianz, AT&T, BP, Conoco Phillips, Exelon, ExxonMobil, First Solar, GM, Johnson & Johnson, MetLife, P&G, PepsiCo, Santander, Schneider Electric, Shell, Total, and Unilever. 
A financial website speculated that many of these companies, especially the oil and gas companies, had ulterior motives to joining the CLC. The biggest beneficiaries, especially in the short run, would oil and gas companies. A carbon tax would force many coal fired plants to convert to cleaner natural gas. The multinational members would also be protecting themselves from a potential carbon tariff from other countries if the U.S. implemented a carbon tax. 
Three NGOs have also joined the CLC: Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy, and the World Wildlife Fund. 
Several people have joined CLC in their individual capacity. Fomer Federal Reserve chairs Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellin are members. Former Obama administration Energy Secretary Steven Chu is also a member. Former Clinton administration Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers is also a member.  There are also members who served in Republican administrations such as Christine Todd Whitman, Martin Feldstein, and Gregory Mankiw.
CLC has numerous organizations as strategic partners. They include the Atlantic Council, American Wind Energy Association, Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition, Citizens Climate Lobby, Clean Prosperity, Evangelical Environmental Network, New America, Policy Exchange, republicEn, The Weather Channel, and the World Resources Institute. 
In 2018, CLC reported total revenues of $1.7 million (all of which came from grants), total expenditures of $2.6 million, and net assets of $1.9 million. The group paid out $116,875 in grants to other organizations in 2018. 
In 2017, CLC reported total revenues of $4.2 million (all of which came from grants), total expenditures of $1.4 million, and net assets of $2.8 million. The group paid out $64,265 in grants to other organizations in 2017. 
CLC received over $2.7 million from the left-leaning LLC Arnold Ventures between 2019 and 2021. Arnold Ventures wrote that the purpose of the grant was “to develop a coalition of strategic partners that will educate the public, key stakeholders, and policymakers about the carbon dividends framework.” 
Donors to Climate Leadership Council
The Climate Leadership Council was formed in 2016-2017, so little data on its funding is available as of October 2019. However, data from the service FoundationSearch indicates 5 grants in 2016-2017 totaling $1.35 million to CLC: 
- Goldman Sachs Philanthropy Fund (a donor-advised fund provider): $500,000
- Craig and Susan McCaw Foundation: $500,000
- Arnhold Foundation: $150,000
- Charles Stewart Mott Foundation: $100,000
- Germeshausen Foundation: $100,000
CLC has also been awarded substantial grants from Arnold Ventures, a for-profit extension of the left-wing mega-funder the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. Between 2017 and 2019, Arnold Ventures had awarded CLC “up to” $1,500,000; starting in 2019, CLC is set to receive $3,000,000 in grants from Arnold Ventures by 2021. 
In 2018, the biggest donations to CLC were as large as $500,000; other large donations were for $350,000, $200,000, $150,000, and $100,000 (4 such grants). Under IRS rules, CLC does not have to disclose its donors, only the amounts of their donations. 
Grants from Climate Leadership Council
In 2018, CLC made grants and program expenditures outside of the United States totaling $128,128. Of that sum, $106,039 was spent on “program services” in Europe (specifically “grants to organizations and travel for staff”), and $22,089 on East Asia and the Pacific (for “travel expenses for staff”). 
In 2016, the Climate Leadership Council filed a Form 990-N postcard with the IRS, indicating that the group received less than $50,000 in revenues for the year.
CLC’s IRS Form 990 filings for 2017 and 2018, including donation amounts (but not donors), are available below:
CLC’s IRS Form 1024 application for recognition of tax-exempt status is available here.