Why taxes on carbon pollution are essential, what’s happening now, and how you can help
[P.S. See our special Climate March essay, Blueprint for Saving the World, on Salon.com!]
Earth’s climate is changing in costly and painful ways. Yet the transition from climate-damaging fossil fuels to energy efficiency renewable sunlight and wind energy is slow and halting. The biggest obstacle to clean energy is that the market prices of coal, oil and gas don’t include the true costs of carbon pollution. A robust and briskly rising U.S. carbon tax will transform energy investment and consumption and sharply reduce the carbon emissions that are driving global warming.
- A carbon tax is an “upstream” tax on the carbon content 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 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.