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Nye Bevan

(25,406 posts)
Sat Mar 22, 2014, 08:55 PM Mar 2014

Would you support a carbon tax? [View all]

A carbon tax is a tax levied on the carbon content of fuels.[1] It is a form of carbon pricing. Carbon is present in every hydrocarbon fuel (coal, petroleum, and natural gas) and is released as carbon dioxide (CO2) when they are burnt. In contrast, non-combustion energy sources—wind, sunlight, hydropower, and nuclear—do not convert hydrocarbons to CO2. CO2 is a heat-trapping "greenhouse" gas.[2] Scientists have pointed to the potential effects on the climate system of releasing greenhouse gases (GHGs) into the atmosphere (see scientific opinion on global warming).[2][3][4] Since GHG emissions caused by the combustion of fossil fuels are closely related to the carbon content of the respective fuels, a tax on these emissions can be levied by taxing the carbon content of fossil fuels at any point in the product cycle of the fuel.[5]

Carbon taxes offer a potentially cost-effective means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.[6] From an economic perspective, carbon taxes are a type of Pigovian tax.[7] They help to address the problem of emitters of greenhouse gases not facing the full (social) costs of their actions. Carbon taxes can be a regressive tax, in that they may directly or indirectly affect low-income groups disproportionately . The regressive impact of carbon taxes could be addressed by using tax revenues to favour low-income groups.[8] However, there are about USD $550 billion in fossil fuel subsidies annually worldwide.[9]

A number of countries have implemented carbon taxes or energy taxes that are related to carbon content.[10] Most environmentally related taxes with implications for greenhouse gas emissions in OECD countries are levied on energy products and motor vehicles, rather than on CO2 emissions directly.[6]

Opposition to increased environmental regulation such as carbon taxes often centres on concerns that firms might relocate and/or people might lose their jobs.[10] It has been argued, however, that carbon taxes are more efficient than direct regulation and may even lead to higher employment (see footnotes).[10] Many large users of carbon resources in electricity generation, such as the United States, Russia and China, are resisting carbon taxation.


11 votes, 0 passes | Time left: Unlimited
Yes, I would support a carbon tax.
4 (36%)
No, I would not support a carbon tax.
7 (64%)
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