[PRO-CON] Should the United States adopt a tax on carbon?

McClatchy-Tribune news service


By Mark J. Perry, professor of economics at the Flint campus of the University of Michigan

Even if a carbon tax could significantly reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, should it be implemented if it would undermine the economic recovery and stall short-term growth?

Under one possible approach, all countries would agree to penalize carbon emissions at an internationally harmonized carbon tax. But let’s be realistic: Because of the huge economic and political imbalances between the industrialized and developing world, the carbon-tax approach to emissions reduction is a pipe dream.

As much as 85 percent of the projected increase in man-made global emissions of carbon dioxide will come from developing countries, as a result of growing electric power use and automobile ownership that accompany economic growth

The United States and other advanced countries won’t sacrifice their living standards, and the developing ones aren’t going to worry about climate change while their incomes are a fraction of those in advanced nations.



By Kenneth Richards,  professor in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University

When a group of players as disparate as Al Gore, the International Monetary Fund and President Reagan’s Secretary of State George Shultz all agree on something, it might be worth taking note.

Emphasizing different factors, many policy commentators and analysts, conservatives and liberals alike, are advocating a new slant on taxation – shifting some of the burden to carbon emissions.

For reasons of both environmental protection and reduced government interference in the economy, the United States should adopt a tax on carbon.

While the former reason is perhaps the more important from a global perspective, the latter is the easier to support in today’s challenging economic climate.


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August 2012