carbon tax

Making Fossil Fuels Pay for Their Damage

A carbon tax doesn’t seem to be in the cards. Maybe a clean-up tax would fare better.

Production and combustion of fossil fuels imposes enormous costs on society, which the industry doesn’t pay for.  I want to talk about some options for using the tax system to change that.  One option, a tax on carbon dioxide emissions, gets the most attention but seems politically impossible.  The closest we’ve ever come to a …

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The Inflation Reduction Act and the Sequencing of Climate Policy

Why subsidies for clean energy generally are preconditions for other climate policies

The Inflation Reduction Act would be, if enacted, the biggest piece of climate legislation that the U.S. Congress has ever passed.  As such, it’s gotten a fair amount of coverage attempting to put it into context for the broader scope of climate policy in the U.S. and globally – in particular, this article in Slate …

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Making Climate Policy Work

New book highlights the weaknesses of carbon pricing in addressing climate policy

I have a new post up at JOTWELL reviewing a recent book from Danny Cullenward at the climate think-tank Carbon Plan, and Professor David Victor of UC San Diego.  Their book, Making Climate Policy Work, is a terrific overview of the political and administrative weaknesses of carbon pricing as a tool for climate policy.  Please …

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Taxing Carbon?

Should we adopt a corporate carbon tax? Something to think about on Tax Day.

Today is Tax Day, delayed from its usual spot in mid-April due a backlog at the IRS.  It seems like an apt time to think about a carbon tax.  At present, it doesn’t seem to be on Biden’s agenda, but agendas can change with circumstances, sometimes unpredictably. Politically, the biggest problem with a carbon tax …

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Bold But Realistic Climate Actions

Here’s what a new President could actually do.

What options are available to a new President taking office in 2021?  Let’s assume a favorable scenario for climate action in which Dems take unified control of the government (White House, Senate, House) in 2021.  What then? The first theme to keep in mind is that the Democrats will still be subject to some significant …

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Pricing Carbon: What Does It Actually Accomplish?

Pricing carbon may not work the way economists thought.

In theory, pricing carbon should incentivize emissions reductions.  In reality, it is unclear to what extent that takes place unless the carbon price is very high.  This is not to say that pricing carbon is useless, but the main benefits may take different forms. Basically, there are two ways of putting a price on carbon.  …

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What Do Dems Think about Climate Policy?

The candidates are united on some issues, but divided or equivocal on others.

Yesterday, the Washington Post published a survey of the Democratic candidates’ positions on climate change.  The differences between candidates probably don’t have a lot of immediate policy relevance, given the political and legal constraints on what a new president could accomplish. But they are very revealing about the direction of the Democratic Party today. The …

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Happy Tax Day!

It’s the perfect time to talk about a carbon tax.

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once said that taxes are the prices we pay for a civilized society.  A carbon tax, if we ever get one,  might turn out to be the price we pay for a sustainable planet.  I’m not wedded to it as a tool for cutting carbon, and I don’t think it would …

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On the present improbability and future necessity of carbon pricing

Mapping a politically feasible roadmap towards a future, rigorous carbon pricing system

Carbon pricing is in the news right now—and not in a good way.  Whether it is French protests over gas taxes, political challenges to Canada’s new federal carbon price system, voter rejection of a carbon price in Washington state, or (yet another) Australian government falling because of disputes over carbon pricing, the political challenges of …

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On magical, mythical, market unicorn fairies

Or how we can get effective climate policy without government intervention

I don’t usually respond to op-ed columns, but the column by Bret Stephens in the New York Times on climate policy yesterday is so …. foolish that I think it needs a response.  And more to the point, the foolishness in the column can help illuminate some of the major problems that have developed as …

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