Monday, November 26, 2007

Carbon Tax vs. Cap-and-Trade

Summary of the Article

Most people agree that reducing carbon emissions will aid in solving to so-called problem of global warming. The only problem is that a tax would be required to incentivize people to reduce the amount of carbon emissions they commit. Capitol Hill would rather set caps on greenhouse-gas emissions (with allowances to trade emission permits) and tighten up regulations, such as fuel-economy standards than develop a tax for carbon emissions. A few problems with cap-and-trade plans, as evidenced by other nations, are that they take a long time to set up and perfect and raise energy prices for consumers, however, not as directly as a tax.

Carbon Taxes and Incentives

A carbon tax would send a signal to the market to reduce carbon use. In addition, the tax would provide an incentive for research and investment into renewable sources. The article suggests that tax revenues could be returned to taxpayers. For example, “every worker would receive a tax rebate of about $560, cutting the tax bill by 18% for those earning $20,000, or by 4% for those earning $90,000.” In addition, carbon taxes will assist in predicting energy prices. There is urgency in solving the climate crisis, such as global warming. Carbon taxes can be implemented quicker than the cap-and-trade system.

Furthers problems of Cap-and-Trade

A cap-and-trade system is an administrative approach used by a central body, such as the government, to control pollution using economic incentives for achieving reductions in the amount of emissions of pollutants, such as carbon. Unlike the transparency of carbon taxes, the cap-and-trade system is harder for business to predict because of constant fluctuations. The costs of cap-and-trade are very high. The costs are for implementation and for the improvement in technology that would cut carbon emissions. These costs will likely be passed onto consumers with less possibility of a tax shift that the carbon tax could offer.


In conclusion, carbon taxes will be more efficient in reducing carbon emissions. They will be more efficient because nobody likes a tax. Therefore, the greater the chance of being taxed, the more incentive there will be to take responsibility in reducing the amount of carbon emissions.

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