So what is a carbon tax? Well, first off, it is not actually a new idea.
In the US, it was first proposed under the Clinton administration back in 1993 – and today, the basic principles of it have not changed too drastically. Unlike cap-and-trade, and unlike carbon-cutting regulations proposed by the Paris agreement or the EPA, greenhouse gas emissions themselves are not capped.
Instead, the original sources of carbon – fossil fuels – are taxed. The more carbon present within the fossil fuel, the greater the tax on them. The tax applies at any point in the production cycle of the fuel, so the taxes can be levied whenever a company merely mines or buys fossil fuels.
Ultimately, if a carbon tax is applied, coal will cost companies a lot more to use, followed by oil, then natural gas. The idea is that if they decide to use them a lot, then the country will benefit from additional revenue. If they decide to eschew them, then the country – and world – will benefit from lower carbon emissions.
The three Republicans are marketing it as a conservative, free-market plan – something that President Reagan would have liked the sound of. “I’m not at all sure the Gipper wouldn’t have been very happy with this,” Baker said during the meeting.
Nevertheless, carbon taxes have plenty of bipartisan support, although Democrats are likely to favor the implementation of a carbon tax with investments in clean, renewable energy. Public favorability of the idea is generally quite high – but it dips whenever certain conservative lawmakers phrase it as a tax on the middle class, which it generally isn’t.
The thing is, the public overwhelmingly thinks that the solution already in front of them – investing in renewable energy and deprioritizing fossil fuels – is fine as it is. A recent survey revealed that over two-thirds of Americans, a striking majority, want the government to work on this.
The three argue that carbon caps promoted by the EPA are “growth-inhibiting”, but there’s no solid evidence to suggest this is true.
While it’s unnervingly refreshing to see a climate change action plan being proposed to the White House by Republicans, we don’t yet know how the White House has received it. Nevertheless, we’d argue that they’re ignoring the environmentally friendly, economically beneficial solution the rest of the world seems to have already chosen.