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Bill Gates Backs Innovative New Carbon Fee in Washington

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The quickest way to curb carbon emissions in the US is to tax them, economists say.

Now, tech mogul and philanthropist Bill Gates is weighing in on the issue to express his support for a bill in the state of Washington that would seek to do just that, reports Quartz.

Initiative 1631, which will be up for a vote on Nov. 6, would execute a $15 fee per metric ton of carbon dioxide starting in 2020, increasing $2 every year plus inflation until the state hits its emissions-reductions goal, according to the report.

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"You may be skeptical about this idea. I know I was," Gates wrote in a LinkedIn post last week, stating he will vote for the initiative and contribute to the "Yes on 1631" campaign. "How can one state make a difference on a global problem like climate change? And unlike some supporters of the initiative, I am not interested in attacking the companies that provide the affordable, reliable energy that keeps our houses warm, our cars on the road, and our economy humming. But I overcame my doubts."

Companies openly opposed to the bill include oil companies, such as BP, Chevron, Phillips, and Andeavor, have raised $22.45 million to challenge it, according to the Associated Press.

Shell also doesn't support 1631, but the company stated that it wouldn't donate money to a campaign opposing it, noted Axios.

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"1631 would help Washington become a hub for innovative work on clean energy and climate," posited Gates, a Seattle native, in his statement. "Putting a price on pollution that causes climate change will create a clear market signal that will help drive adoption of the renewable sources of energy we can deploy today."

It will also help fund those renewable sources.

The state of Washington estimates that it will raise $2.3 billion in revenue in the first five years, noted Quartz, which the state would be legally obligated to spend on programs and projects related to the environment.

There will be initial spikes in the cost of energy, acknowledged Gates, but the long-term impact would benefit all those in the state in the long run.

"It is true that any fee like this may drive up the price of energy. But 1631 specifically requires that 35% of revenues from the fee will go back to low-income communities hit hard by pollution," he said.

Disclosure: Bill Gates is the co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a funding partner of Global Citizen.

Editor's note: This piece has been updated to include a disclosure that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is a funding partner of Global Citizen. We regret the oversight.