Why taxes on carbon pollution are essential, what’s happening now, and how you can help
Our new video, “An Earthling’s Guide to Taxing Carbon,” shows how a carbon tax works and why the U.S. and other nations must make taxing carbon the central policy to combat climate change:
Earth’s climate is changing in costly and painful ways. 2014 was the globe’s hottest year on record, and the dozen warmest have all come after 1997, as this graphic shows all too clearly.
Yet the transition from climate-damaging fossil fuels to energy efficiency, renewable sunlight and wind energy is slow and halting. The Number One obstacle is that the market prices of coal, oil and gas don’t include the true costs of carbon pollution. A briskly rising U.S. carbon tax will transform energy investment, re-shape consumption, and sharply reduce the carbon emissions that are driving global warming.
- A carbon tax is an “upstream” tax on the carbon contents of fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas) and biofuels.
- A carbon tax is the most efficient means to instill crucial price signals that spur carbon-reducing investment. View our spreadsheet to see just how fast emissions will fall at different tax levels.
- A carbon tax will raise fossil fuel prices — that’s the point. The impact on households can be softened through “dividends” (revenue distributions) and/or reducing other taxes that discourage hiring and investing (“tax-shifting or swapping”).
- Carbon taxing is an antidote to rigged energy pricing that helps fossil fuels destabilize earth’s climate. Unlike cap-and-trade, carbon taxes don’t create complex and easily-gamed “carbon markets” with allowances, trading and offsets.