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Reality and a Carbon Tax

Reality and a Carbon Tax

Elections have consequences, and a renewed Obama Administration and a chastened Republican Party just might get facts and politics together enough to enact a significant carbon tax. The 2012 political campaign is over, and climate change deniers have more flexibility to look at facts, such as Hurricane Sandy, instead of just sticking to ideological talking points. Creating convenient, flagrantly untrue, “facts” was a big loser in the Presidential election, as MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow lucidly outlined in her morning-after-election monologue.

To enact a carbon tax, support from powerful corporations will be essential. It’s hopeful that the “West Point of Capitalism,” the Harvard Business School, has published a blog article titled “A business-friendly climate agenda for Obama’s second term” with the following recommendation:

“Put a price on carbon. Economists from across the political spectrum, including N. Gregory Mankiw, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, and Arthur Laffer on the right, agree that the most economically efficient way to cut carbon pollution is by imposing a price via a cap or tax. Either would be a powerful incentive to produce cleaner power and could be accompanied by lower taxes on labor or capital, easing the impact on working families and business. As we move toward the fiscal cliff, there is plenty of discussion in Washington, from stakeholders on both sides of the aisle, about raising revenue through a carbon fee as part of a grand bargain on the budget.”

It’s fortunate that Barack Obama is liked and respected overseas because slowing global warming requires worldwide cooperation. Oxford professor Dieter Helm put it this way in the Op-Ed piece he wrote today in the New York Times, “To Slow Warming,  Tax Carbon”:

“Putting a price on carbon is fundamental. If consumers and businesses do not bear the cost of their carbon pollution, they won’t do much about it. This carbon price should not discriminate between locations: global warming is global. If China does not put a price on carbon, and Europe does, then China will effectively receive a huge export subsidy….What is missing across Europe, the United States and China is a global agreement on a proper carbon price. More than any other measure, a tax on carbon consumption is what’s needed to slow the warming of the planet.”

The battle is joined – Hurricane Sandy, Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Christie have demanded that everyone look at facts – and 2013 should be a good year for action against climate change.

Image by NASA. Photo taken by either Harrison Schmitt or Ron Evans (of the Apollo 17 crew). [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


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