The Trouble With Carbon Taxes: Lessons For Asian Policymakers

Tilak Doshi

By, Tilak Doshi

Energy I analyze energy economics and related public policy issues.

A yellow vest protester waves a French national flag on International Workers' Day in the Montparnasse district of Paris, France, on Wednesday, May 1, 2019. French President Emmanuel Macron has called for an extremely firm response to violent protesters at Wednesday's traditional May 1 holiday demonstrations. Photographer: Anita Pouchard Serra/Bloomberg
A yellow vest protester waves a French national flag on International Workers’ Day in the Montparnasse district of Paris, France, on Wednesday, May 1, 2019. French President Emmanuel Macron has called for an extremely firm response to violent protesters at Wednesday’s traditional May 1 holiday demonstrations. Photographer: Anita Pouchard Serra/Bloomberg © 2019 Bloomberg Finance LP

As some of the world’s largest carbon emitters, the major emerging Asian economies such as China, India and Indonesia as well as the developed countries Japan and South Korea have been under pressure in international climate change forums to adopt carbon pricing. Asian energy planners, however, are not likely to be encouraged by the experience of carbon tax legislation in a number of countries in the West which have been at the fore-front of “decarbonizing”. Many voters in the developed countries have become increasingly resentful of expensive climate change policies predicated on model-based projections of impending environmental catastrophe. There is no reason to believe that the average Asian citizen, generally poorer than his Western counterpart, will be any less opposed to policies which increase energy prices in his household budget.

Pricing carbon

It is well established among economists that a price on the carbon content of fossil fuels is a far more efficient policy instrument than bureaucratic regulations or government-directed subsidies for power plants, appliances, machinery, buildings and cars. A carbon price can be imposed as a tax or via emission trading schemes (“ETS”) which let markets set the price of carbon allowances. A group of eminent US economists published a bipartisan open letter in the Wall Street Journal earlier this year stating that a “carbon tax offers the most cost-effective lever to reduce carbon emissions at the scale and speed that is necessary”.

An increasing number of governments as well as regional and local authorities around the world have been legislating carbon or greenhouse gas (GHG) pricing schemes. In its latest (2018) global survey, the World Bank claims that carbon taxes and ETS continue “to gain traction.” To date, 88 countries of those (over 190) that submitted their “nationally determined contributions” to the Paris Agreement in 2015 have stated that they are planning to use carbon pricing as a tool to meet their voluntary commitments.

China, Japan and South Korea are experimenting with voluntary ETS in some cities and provinces while Thailand, Vietnam, and Taiwan are “considering” future ETS or carbon taxes. The tiny city-state of Singapore is the first on record implementing a nation-wide carbon tax of just under $4.00/tCO2e (ton of carbon dioxide equivalent, a measure of GHGs emitted) on large industrial emitters from 2019 onward.

The political revolt against carbon taxes

But these early moves on carbon pricing in Asia are likely to remain limited, as the unfolding political revolt against burdensome energy policies has become increasingly apparent in the West. On May 3rd, the German magazine Spiegel reported that the leader of the Christian Democratic party rejected the call for nationwide carbon taxes, as the interests of the German economy trumped climate change concerns of its partners in the governing coalition. This occurred only days after it was claimed that Germany was moving towards a carbon tax as senior officials from the coalition government had reached a seeming consensus.

The German U-turn is only the latest in a series of set-backs that carbon tax policies have faced in Europe. In March and April, two fledgling political parties on the right (the Finns Party and Forum for Democracy) surged electorally in Finland and Holland on campaign platforms that featured calls for lower fuel prices and an end to funding for international climate change agreements. The national protests in France by the yellow vests garnered a global media audience that witnessed the fury of voters’ reaction against fuel taxes among other issues. In December 2018, French President Emmanuel Macron was forced to suspend increases in petrol and diesel taxes.

In mid-April, Albertan voters in Canada elected a conservative government by a landslide — in a campaign that focused on repealing the carbon tax imposed by the incumbent New Democratic Party which supported Prime Minister Trudeau’s climate change policy ambitions. Alberta’s voters mostly agreed that the imposition of the carbon tax was “all economic pain, no measurable environmental gain” as the premier-to-be Jason Kenney put it. In June 2018, less than a year before Kenney’s big win, the new Ontario government led by Doug Ford promised that its first act in office would be to “fight any efforts by the Federal government to impose a carbon tax on the people of Ontario in court”. Unlike Canada, carbon tax or cap-and-trade schemes have long been political non-starters at the federal level in the US despite bipartisan efforts over the years. At the state level, voters in Washington defeated a carbon tax for the second time in November last year.

In August 2018, Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull endured a humiliating back-down over efforts to fund the country’s Paris Agreement pledges, ceding leadership to his party’s conservative faction which called for higher investments in the country’s coal sector as well as energy policies to lower Australians’ electricity bills. (Note that Australia had repealed its national carbon tax in 2014, less than two years after it was first instituted).

These set-backs to carbon pricing legislation follow a typical pattern. In voting constituencies where “green” policy initiatives are favored, campaign promises are followed up by newly-elected officials initiating ambitious carbon pricing schemes along with non-price measures such as technology-based regulations, subsidies and mandates favoring solar and wind power and electric vehicles. Unsurprisingly, retail energy prices have escalated in many countries and localities – from Germany to California, Australia to Canada. Green policies driving up the price of heating, cooling, transport and electricity then emerge as important bread-and-butter issues in many constituencies. The argument that higher energy costs are necessary to avoid potential environmental catastrophes in the future did not seem persuasive in many electoral contests.

Asia’s carbon imperative

A defining feature of the rapidly growing Asian economies has been the race to rapidly expand fossil fuel use to support industrialization, urbanization and increasing the living standards of citizens as the quid pro quo for political legitimacy. This holds across the political spectrum, whether in chaotically democratic India or authoritarian China. Yet, in their attempt to meet the aspirations of citizens by rapidly “carbonizing” their economies with reliable grid electricity, automotive transport, and cleaner cooking fuels (rather than charcoal, cow-dung and wood), Asian leaders have been lectured on their countries’ rapidly increasing “carbon footprint”.

Some Asian planners have reacted against the “carbon imperialism” of the West in a call for the continued importance of fossil fuels for economic development and poverty alleviation. But it is the wider voter reaction in the developed countries against costly climate change policies, fought out in electoral contests at local, provincial and national levels, that provide Asian leaders valuable lessons on the trouble with carbon taxes.

From Forbes.

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May 8, 2019 2:57 am

In regard to this German discussion on carbon taxes, there’s no doubt that this will be the number one topic in 2021’s national election, and likely to trigger a Green Party Chancellor and Green Party-led government, with carbon taxes coming. The discussion is that they’d collect tens of billions and then float the money back to the public with massive ‘gifts’ (like free railway and bus travel across the entire country). But if the EU doesn’t sign onto this idea…’ll simply drive German companies to relocate outside of the country, and send Germany off into some recession era.

Reply to  Roy
May 8, 2019 5:41 am

they’d collect tens of billions and then float the money back to the public with massive ‘gifts’ (like free railway and bus travel across the entire country).

whoever is dumb enough to believe govt promises like that deserves the govt they get.

Reply to  Greg
May 8, 2019 10:16 am

Greg – ++

Reply to  Greg
May 9, 2019 1:05 am


Just look at taxes on gasoline that are supposed to be used for roads & bridges.

Instead they are plundered for bloated govt. jobs, wages, pensions, “foreign aid”, support for illegal aliens, more welfare for the lazy; among countless other unauthorized uses.

And then they say there is no money for roads & bridges.

Farmer Ch E retired
Reply to  Greg
May 9, 2019 7:30 pm

Remember that every time money changes hands, the Gov keeps a percentage. As such, only a percentage of the money will be floated back to the public.

Reply to  Roy
May 8, 2019 7:14 am

Proper carbon taxes are accompanied by reductions in other, more harmful taxes (such as on labour), not government give-aways. The idea is that each person has the same income to spend, but the price of carbon is higher than it was, so people tend to buy less of it.

William Astley
Reply to  Phoenix44
May 8, 2019 9:10 am

Carbon taxes will not change economic/engineering reality or political reality.

People have zero idea how things are made and where their county’s GDP comes from.

In energy and resources counties like Canada a carbon tax will lead to an economic depression.

Obviously it is an energy tax as there is no viable alternative in the short term to burning hydrocarbons.

Energy is required for all manufacturing, is required to run cities, is required for people to live a modern life.

Higher energy costs will increase the cost of manufacturing and operating for almost all businesses in the country that implements the ‘carbon’ tax which will result in job loses.

Carbon taxes will not change the fact that the wind and sun gathering schemes can only reduce CO2 emissions by around 10 to 15% without the use of batteries.

Reply to  William Astley
May 8, 2019 10:22 am

“People have zero idea how things are made and where their county’s GDP comes from.” That’s not true in Kalifornia. We know everything comes from the store. We don’t need farmers and rancher because the grocery store is more convenient – and they don’t kill anything. We don’t need oil wells because we go to gas stations. We don’t want timber cutting, because we have lumber yards. We don’t even need breweries, because we have bars. Although micro-breweries do offer better brews….

Reply to  William Astley
May 8, 2019 5:53 pm

There are no effective, “green” batteries on the horizon or in the lab. All the favored high capacity batteries have many poisonous side effects from production.

Actually, optimized lead acid deep cycle batteries may be the best bet. We know how to build, maintain, and recycle them quite efficiently for cars and other transportation. They would keep the lead sequestered where it can’t do much harm, and it’s relatively cheap.

Paul Penrose
Reply to  Phoenix44
May 8, 2019 9:33 am

Except with the lower taxes on other things, they can now afford to buy the same amount of carbon based energy as they did before. But of course, they are actually worse off because the government always takes a cut of the money that passes though it’s hands. So in the end, it’s just another fleecing by the smirking government elitists.

Reply to  Phoenix44
May 8, 2019 1:38 pm

A couple of interesting assumptions in your statement.
First, that politicians will ever lower taxes in one area as they raise in another.
Second, that people will continue to have the same amount to spend after implementing energy taxes that will permeate and affect every aspect of the economy, leading to massive unemployment and cost increases.

May 8, 2019 3:13 am

The wheels have fallen off the AGW/CC bandwagon. The next Scary Scenario is Extinction. We have the recent extinction rebellion disruptions that just happen to coincide with a UN announcement that a million species face extinction. I somehow doubt this will fly any better than the last scam.
I can’t see this one scaring vulnerable kids into depression and self-harm.

May 8, 2019 3:25 am

Carbon taxes are just taxes.

“carbon tax offers the most cost-effective lever to reduce carbon emissions at the scale and speed that is necessary”

This talk is just to get you to accept the tax.

Fuel use is fairly inelastic. Raising it’s price will have little long-term effect on consumption.

Reply to  Gamecock
May 8, 2019 6:17 am

Gamecock wrote, “Fuel use is fairly inelastic.”

When US gasoline prices were in the $4 and $5 range, large SUVs were cheap and compacts were selling well. When energy prices are high people insulate their houses and buy high-efficiency furnaces.

Many sources claim that gasoline use (for example) is inelastic to changes in price. However …

A consensus that the demand for gasoline is price inelastic means that policymakers have opted to disregard price instruments when addressing gasoline consumption and climate change. This column analyses daily citywide data on gasoline prices and consumption to show that demand for gasoline is in fact substantially more elastic than previously thought. This is a major argument in favour of the effectiveness of price-based mechanisms in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

ferd berple
Reply to  Speed
May 8, 2019 7:56 am

In BC the carbon tax temporarily worked by stopping people from driving. And in the process lots of businesses went bankrupt as their customers dried up.

But in the end fuel prices have been rising in BC for decades yet consumption has never been higher.

The carbon tax hasn’t worked because there is no practical alternative.

Reply to  ferd berple
May 8, 2019 12:04 pm

BC is a prime example. Starting off as “tax neutral” by charging carbon tax and crediting other taxes, the government a couple years later decided to just put the carbon tax into general revenue.
Since most people can only reduce their home heating and driving by maybe 10% by exercising better planning, and that for a dwindling number of people who haven’t already super-insulated their house, changed to LED bulbs, and bought their vehicle based on fuel economy, the rest of the carbon taxes really come out of your discretionary spending, fewer movies, less eating out, fewer rock concert tickets, fewer lotto tickets, just like any tax increase……with the peculiar effect that people who live in downtown condos near public transit get a rebate cheque…..

Lawrence Barden
Reply to  DMacKenzie
May 8, 2019 12:51 pm

That is why H.R.763, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, specifies that the carbon tax revenues be returned monthly in equal amounts to every American, either by direct deposit or by a check in the mail. Any administration that attempted to change that arrangement would fail or be voted out of office, in the same way that Social Security and Medicare are now sacrosanct expectations of retirees. One virtue of this permanence is that businesses could make long-term financial plans without having to deal with the pendulum swings of changing administrations.

Reply to  Lawrence Barden
May 8, 2019 3:26 pm

To: Lawrence Barden

So, the carbon tac forces an increase in the price of everything – well except those that are not produced by farms, shipped, stored, processed, inventoried, saved, sold, or moved from one place to another.
Your “ever-knowledgeable” federal government assigns someone to to determine how much extra everybody spends, then sends a check for that amount to every individual.
Now, please tell me exactly HOW that process will “force” (or even “encourage”) ANYBODY to reduce their carbon expenditures? If prices and costs per indivdual go by 12,000.00 per year (1000.00 per month) why would somebody receiving 1000.00 per month reduce their travel, purchases or house temperatures in winter?

Now, if you claim 1,000,000 “businesses” would send trillions of dollars in, and “the government” will send the trillions of dollars (taken from businesses trying to do business) to individual people, then what will happen to the people when BUSINESSES who buy things no longer can afford to stay in business?

Lawrence Barden
Reply to  RACookPE1978
May 8, 2019 5:35 pm

You are 60-70% right RACookPE1978, when people receive their monthly dividend they will use it to buy what they want. But when it comes time to buy the next car, the purchaser knows that gasoline prices will continue rising slowly in a predictable way. That will be an incentive to think seriously about purchasing a more fuel efficient car. Car manufacturers are very aware of changes in market demand and will innovate to get better efficiency in an auto that consumers want to buy. This incentive for corporate innovation extends to every product on the market. I’d much rather have consumers in a free market deciding which innovations are best than having some committee of politicians deciding which corporation to reward with subsidies.

Reply to  Speed
May 8, 2019 8:44 am

You need to remember the rebound effect is very real. See the work of Harry Saunders for example:

I’m okay using energy efficient things as it saves me money while keeping me warm/cool and getting me around safely but don’t count on it reducing consumption long term.

It is one of those FreakANomics situations where increasing energy efficiency increases consumption. Yes I found that very counter intuitive but it appears to be the case.

Paul Penrose
Reply to  TRM
May 8, 2019 9:36 am

This is true. If someone buys a car that gets 50% better fuel mileage, they say “Woo Hoo, now I can drive twice as much as before!”

Reply to  TRM
May 8, 2019 9:40 am

Jevon’s Paradox.

Reply to  Gamecock
May 8, 2019 7:17 am

Not really true. It takes time to adjust – a few car ownership cycles for example – but people, and in particular businesses do adjust. Look at aviation – all the new short-haul aircraft are much more fuel efficient because when oil went to $100/bbl. all the airlines suffered.

And since prices are made more or less equal by taxing the externalities of carbon. alternatives become competitive. I will use what is cheaper, not just stop using.

Michael C. Roberts
Reply to  Phoenix44
May 8, 2019 12:36 pm

Phoenix44 – Well, with Griff on the outs with our Dear Host, what – now we have you? Regarding your statement above:

And since prices are made more or less equal by taxing the externalities of carbon. alternatives become competitive. I will use what is cheaper, not just stop using.

So, your idea of a Sound Approach to deal with the fiction of CAGW is to apply a methodology to the carbon equivalency of petroleum based fuel combustion to calculate carbon dioxide released, then further by extrapolating a negative effect on the biosphere – expressed in negative dollar/currency amounts associated with the CO2 released, and finally assessing a tax on the users of said petro fuels to compensate the biosphere for those negative effects (or ‘externalities’, as you have stated) is a Good Thing. This Good Taxation has increased the cost to the petro fuel purchaser/user, artificially decreasing the relative costs of competing sources of energy (such as, what, electrical energy for cars?). Allowing an end user to choose the least expensive fuel? Have I stated your intent correctly here? Two words for you:

Hog and Wash.

Awaiting your return comment, whilst exhaling 40,000 ppm CO2 equivalent with each Baited Breath.



Reply to  Gamecock
May 8, 2019 7:30 am

Fuel usage is inelastic in the short term. However over the long term people can and have changed their behavior in response to price changes.
For example, when prices go up, people buy more fuel efficient cars. People chose houses closer to where they work and shop.
Even in the short term people can modify their driving habits to reduce fuel usage.

Bob Rogers
Reply to  MarkW
May 9, 2019 4:40 am

If we’re talking about a $5 a gallon tax, yes, people will make changes. If we’re talking a few percent no one will notice. Look at the recent tax cuts. Many people who are paying less tax believe they’re paying more.

But how much energy goes into producing a new car? The tax will increase the cost of the new car, and devalue the existing car. The tax will increase the cost of urban housing and devalue rural housing.

If you think food deserts are a problem now, imagine how much worse it will be when the cost of shipping produce is dramatically increased.

Flight Level
May 8, 2019 3:43 am

Judging by who charters bizjets and their destinations, another German relocation tsunami is in the making.

However relocating the remaining unemployed will be a very different ballgame.

Reply to  Flight Level
May 8, 2019 4:16 am

I think the more wealthy folks, who realize they are the ones with the heaviest load on the CO2 tax….will be the first to say enough and pack up to leave. Countries like Czech or Hungary will be their destination. After two or three years of this, with unemployment rates rising….the folks with skillcrafts and job chances will leave in the next wave. It’ll take four years of this to convince the public to vote to dump the politics involved, but the damage will have been done by that point.

Flight Level
Reply to  Roy
May 8, 2019 1:55 pm

Sadly yes. The gap widens. There’s still too much money in saving accounts. And a fool and his money are quickly parted.

The chances to see green global warming campaigners in Liberia for example are far less than in Bonn. Guess why …

May 8, 2019 3:55 am

The problem is very simple,there is no climate problem and the
public have finally realised it.


Gary Pearse
May 8, 2019 4:35 am

The greens know that democracy is a bitch and their day dreams of getting rid of it have not been a secret, although they have been considerably more successful with this in Europe, birthplace of marxian polphilosophy where for some reason fascination with it remains strong despite the terrible 20th Century failures and the death toll.

Election of an iconoclastic President Trump who saw nothing ‘too big to fail’, reawakened the ordinary citizen in Europe with his disruptive model for prosperity for his citizens. All understood, that unless US was all-in with their new order, it was toast. Thank you Mr. President. New Trump types in Europe continue to find electoral success with the support of a formerly despairing, disenfranchised populace.

Paul Penrose
Reply to  Gary Pearse
May 8, 2019 9:47 am

I wish people would stop clamoring for paradise on earth where everybody is equal in every way. Not only is that not possible because we are all flawed, but it would be boring as hell. The only thing that makes life bearable is the chance to strive, work, and achieve something. Nothing good ever came out of sitting around waiting for fortune to fall on you like pennies from heaven. We each have to create meaning for our selves, nobody can give it to us.

Reply to  Paul Penrose
May 8, 2019 11:04 pm

Mr Penrose,

Please realize that only a very small percentage of the population shares your idea of “creating meaning” for themselves. Most just go to the mall.

Paul Penrose
Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
May 9, 2019 9:52 am

Therein lies the source to many of our social problems. But if nobody ever talks about it, nothing will ever change.

May 8, 2019 5:15 am

It bewilders me that so so many think that taxing consumption of fossil fuels is an equitable way to reduce consumption. Such tax may be inconsequential to you or me but very consequential to he or she, all depending on our individual income. Reduction from a tax may result, but it will be widely adsorbed by the poorer among us who simply have not the money to fuel their car or heat their house. Should reduced consumption be necessary, I believe that rationing, as done during WWII to meet military needs, is the only equitable way. But try that and see how loud everybody including the greens will squeal.

Reply to  DHR
May 8, 2019 5:51 am

Actually, what you point out is a Feature, not a Bug. Just like everyone else, even Rich Liberals *love* the idea of a tax that will fall on everybody else (even the poor!) much more heavily than (they think) it will fall on them.

Steve O
Reply to  DHR
May 8, 2019 6:09 am

The sales pitch is that governments will employ redistribution to offset the regressive effects of the tax.

Progressives love this approach because it makes people more dependent on the government, and it increases its power over industry. Everyone becomes more beholden to government power.

mike macray
Reply to  DHR
May 8, 2019 7:28 am

..”It bewilders me that so so many think that taxing consumption of fossil fuels is an equitable way to reduce consumption.”
ditto: a ten fold increase in fuel prices over the past 50 years has not reduced consumption one iota. On the plus side it has encouraged higher efficiency i.e. less waste.

Moderately Cross of East Anglia
May 8, 2019 5:39 am

So now Asia’s poorer people must suffer for the medieval green flagellent’s irrational and falsified science beliefs? The sooner this nonsense falls apart the better – and Germany siding with the long held scepticism of Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic about emission targets is a HUGE deal in rolling back the idiocy of the eco-narrative. And despite the lying BBC and its toadies, the general public is increasingly doubtful of the hysteria.

May 8, 2019 5:49 am

This kind of outside pressure and imperialism from western powers (call it what it is!) will only lead to more and more leaders like Duterte in the Philippines – he may be a thug, but he’s not shy about telling anyone wanting to interfere with how the Philippines do anything, to go pound sand. And guess what, voters go for that rather than someone who tells them “yes, we must bow down and pay homage to our overseas masters, and be sure to do what pleases them.”

Only Green parties think that kind of thing will win them votes.

May 8, 2019 5:59 am

Forget about Asian taxpayers…Asian governments are not interested in the least in participating in the Climate Fraud (except for receiving transfer payments, that is).

Asia’s planned carbon emissions GROWTH this century will make emission abatement efforts in the west moot…even if the West goes “zero carbon” by 2050 (which can’t happen because of transportation fuels and we can’t build enough nuclear plants fast enough) total global emissions will continue to go up.

The West is being asked (sic) to spend $100 Trillion and ruin their economies for basically nothing. This isn’t funny anymore. The Marxists will probably kill billions thus time…if they get away with it.

And, there are no significant efforts underway to get Asia to conform. That’s because (to the neoMatxist instigators) Climate Change isn’t about the climate…it’s just the latest dishonest tool to use for the acquisition of power. If “climate doom” were imminent, the Climate Elite would be loudly talking about the “ASIA PROBLEM”. Instead…..crickets chirping.

This is proof that the “Climate Elite” aren’t really worried about the climate.

Gerry, England
May 8, 2019 6:06 am

Since China benefits from the relocation of industry from the EU on cost grounds I can’t see why they would sign up to a tax that would damage this.

ferd berple
May 8, 2019 6:23 am

“carbon tax offers the most cost-effective lever to reduce carbon emissions at the scale and speed that is necessary”
Market mechanisms only work when there is an alternative fuel. Electricity is not a fuel. It is a delivery mechanism.

Without an alternative the carbon tax is simply punative. Making it too expensive for poor people to drive or heat their houses. Ultimately this will kill people so it should be no surprise that these same people may wish to return the favor to governments that enact such policies.

Greg Woods
May 8, 2019 6:27 am

What’s a ‘carbon emitter’?

Dan Hawkins
Reply to  Greg Woods
May 8, 2019 10:52 pm

—What’s a carbon emitter?— That is a great question, Greg Woods. The concept is a bastard offfspring of linguistic laziness by those to whom ‘dioxide’ is a tedious and disposable suffix and those who wish to create an optic of dirty, greasy, black, yucky. It occurs to me that, since oxygen is a major part of a CO2 molecule, then car exhausts and power plant stacks could just as rightly be called ‘oxygen emitters.’ But that does not answer your honest question, so I herewith offer an honest example: it sits here on my desk, noisily emitting carbon every time I stick a pencil into it. If there’s a carbon tax on it, perhaps I can earn an offset by shipping the concomitant wood shavings over to Drax power plant?

May 8, 2019 6:33 am

This issue is just to get people to accept the tax.

Fuel use is fair. Raising it’s price will have no long-term effect on its consumption.

Lawrence Barden
May 8, 2019 6:43 am

We can have a carbon tax without voter revolt. Start with a low tax of $15 per ton of CO2 produced, which would raise gasoline prices by 10 cents a gallon. Each year increase that tax by $10 per ton CO2. Return all revenue in equal monthly dividends to each person with a valid social security number. Let American consumers and businesses decide how to reduce CO2 emissions in the marketplace.

The U.S. House of Representatives bill, H.R.763, accomplishes this simple approach to reducing carbon emissions. It is revenue neutral, has bipartisan support, and allows the market to decide how to reduce carbon emissions without new regulations or subsidies.

H.R.763 is succinctly described in an opinion editorial published in the Houston Chronicle on April 29, “Charge a Carbon Fee. Let the Market Fix Climate Change”:

Eric Brownson
Reply to  Lawrence Barden
May 8, 2019 7:15 am

What effect will the proposed “carbon tax” legislation have on the climate? Data please, no appeals to authority. If the answer is unknown, how can anyone make an informed decision about the efficacy of the proposal?

Lawrence Barden
Reply to  Eric Brownson
May 8, 2019 9:28 am

Eric, Thanks for asking. Citizens’ Climate Education Corporation (CCEC) and Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) contracted a third party, Regional Economic Modeling, Inc. (REMI) to do a nation-wide macroeconomic study on the impact of its Fee and Dividend (F&D) policy. REMI is one of the top policy analysis companies in the US. Here is their answer to your question: CO2 emissions decline 33% after 10 years, and 52% after 20 relative to baseline.

For a short summary of the 150-page report see

Reply to  Lawrence Barden
May 8, 2019 7:55 am

Lawrence Barden

We can have a carbon tax without voter revolt. Start with a low tax of $15 per ton of CO2 produced, which would raise gasoline prices by 10 cents a gallon. Each year increase that tax by $10 per ton CO2. Return all revenue in equal monthly dividends to each person with a valid social security number. Let American consumers and businesses decide how to reduce CO2 emissions in the marketplace.

Now, please tell me WHY we need a carbon tax = carbon credit at all.
If the money is going to “come back to the consumer” what is the consumer’s incentive to save any “carbon” under any circumstance?

Lawrence Barden
Reply to  RACookPE1978
May 8, 2019 9:33 am

As the price of fossil carbon goes up, consumers choose cheaper or more efficient products, which stimulates companies to innovate. American consumers have demonstrated this economic truism in the past by buying cars with higher gas mileage when gas prices skyrocketed during the 1970s.

Reply to  Lawrence Barden
May 9, 2019 6:15 pm

My neighbour who drives a van for work will pay much more than me with my shopping buggy. My other neighbour who peddles to the dole office will pay nothing. If you arrange to give him his refund annually in cash with a green bow on top, with a medal for saving the Earth, he will vote for you forever. Actually it is not a refund as he paid nothing.
Are you happy to incentivise the unproductive?
So, another redistribution scheme, ripe for unintended consequences.
Why should we suffer injustice for ten or twenty years just because some moron has a thought bubble.

NB. Nuance is for pussies. Stereotypes and cliches are much more fun.

Tom Abbott
May 8, 2019 6:58 am

“emission trading schemes”

Appropiately named, I would say.

Don’t buy into the alarmist’s claims that a Carbon Tax won’t hurt the poor because the Carbon Taxes the poor pay will be reimbursed to them by the government.

While the poor may get their money returned, the Carbon Tax will cause an increase in price of *everything* they buy, and the government is not going to reimburse them for these added costs.

As said above, A Carbon Tax is a tax, and a tax increases prices and slows down economies for everyone, rich and poor.

Of course, governments love Carbon Taxes. Money is their Bread and Butter, so anything that brings them more money is going to be favored by them.

Dave O.
May 8, 2019 7:06 am

Find a reliable (and cheaper) alternative to fossil fuels and you won’t need taxes to spur adoption.

ferd berple
May 8, 2019 7:59 am

It is well established among economists
The only thing established is that economists and climate scientists can’t predict the future worth a damn.

Robert of Texas
May 8, 2019 8:45 am

They need to move on… Carbon Tax is dead. Enough people have realized its nothing but a money grab by politicians.

Now they need to go for a Oxygen Tax. They can tax both the production and consumption of oxygen – so tax all green plants for dumping this pollutant into our atmosphere, and at the same time tax each person for consuming a natural resource. CO2 contains oxygen, so you can tax it as well – plants for consuming it and people for emitting it. Combustion gets a double tax as well. Oh, and water…they can just tax the living &#@^ out of that!

William Astley
May 8, 2019 9:52 am

Carbon taxes is a plan that is dead on arrival, a plan that cannot work due to super obvious conceptual flaws.

Even if every country had unlimited money and even if the politicians did not care that about the massive job losses which will occur, it is absolutely impossible to reduce anthropogenic CO2 emissions to zero using sun and wind gathering.

All these things (William: Batteries, new power lines, electric cars, electric earth moving equipment, electric planes, charging stations, and so on) are made using mammoth amounts of energy: far from achieving massive energy savings, which most plans for a renewables future rely on implicitly, we would wind up needing far more energy, which would mean even more vast renewables farms – and even more materials and energy to make and maintain them and so on. The scale of the building would be like nothing ever attempted by the human race.”

“RE<C was a failure, and Google closed it down after four years. Now, Koningstein and Fork have explained the conclusions they came to after a lengthy period of applying their considerable technological expertise to renewables, in an article posted at IEEE Spectrum.

Even if one were to electrify all of transport, industry, heating and so on, so much renewable generation and balancing/storage equipment would be needed to power it that astronomical new requirements for steel, concrete, copper, glass, carbon fibre, neodymium, shipping and haulage etc etc would appear.

All these things are made using mammoth amounts of energy: far from achieving massive energy savings, which most plans for a renewables future rely on implicitly, we would wind up needing far more energy, which would mean even more vast renewables farms – and even more materials and energy to make and maintain them and so on. The scale of the building would be like nothing ever attempted by the human race.”

May 8, 2019 10:04 am

The trouble with Carbon (Dioxide) taxes is that they cost an arm and a leg, wreck the economy and have no effect on the weather or climate. Apart from that……

May 8, 2019 10:59 am

Four provinces in Canada are taking the Feds to court regarding their right to impose carbon taxes. Saskatchewan just lost in the provincial court. The next step is the Supreme court. At least there will be a delay in some provinces – others like BC is claiming they will do it one better by having a higher tax than the Feds mandate.

Bruce Cobb
May 8, 2019 2:46 pm

Carbon taxes are all economic pain, and no gain whatsoever for “the planet”. They are way worse than useless.

May 8, 2019 3:25 pm

Assume you are serious about “fixing” the climate.
Carbon taxes nowhere near capable of achieving the required emissions reductions…like spitting into the wind. Just as worthless as renewable energy. Neither come within a lightyear of 1950 emissions by 2050. Crazy, uninformed crap.

Put any engineer and any (non-socialist) economist in the same room (what the heck, let the lefty into the room). Task them with finding a way to get CO2 emissions below 1950 levels before 2050 without killing half the world population and while continuing to eliminate world poverty. Assume the Climate Crisis is real.

All they will need is a pencil, a calculator, and the back of an envelope and 2 hours of discussion to arrive at the conclusion that a massive Nuclear power build-up is the ONLY possible solution. And even that will be nearly impossible because of tremendous economic disruptions this transformation would create.


And it would include using nuclear energy to make synthetic liquid transportation fuels to replace gasoline, diesel, and aviation fuels. AND THAT WOULD REQUIRE GEN 4 NUCLEAR plants because higher operating temperatures of MSR (Molten Salt Reactors) are required to synthesize the liquid transportation fuels.

All of this would require a world wide Manhattan Project level effort. Fortunately, the crisis is a fraud.

And fools still talk about Carbon Taxes. Not serious.

James Bull
May 8, 2019 3:45 pm

I can’t remember who it was did some calculations of how big the reduction in worldwide CO2 and temp would be for different countries if they went to zero emissions but I do remember that for nearly all developed nations it was as near to zero as made no odds especially when balanced against natural emissions.
I was talking to a true believer and asked them what they thought the figure would be and they said 1 or 2 deg C when told that it would be almost undetectable they didn’t like that very much at all so I suggested that they find the numbers and do the maths themselves, so far nothing but I hope they do look into it.

James Bull

May 8, 2019 7:12 pm

Korea is indeed being urged by foreign organizations/nations to increase fuel prices and decrease CO2 emission. However, Korean citizen like to keep energy prices low. At this moment, there is a tax CUT on gasoline, because citizens were complaining that the high price of gasoline was putting too much pressure on the household budget. And during the hot summers, people complain about the high electricity bill (due to the aircon). The government then gives a discount on the electricity bill to households. So any increase in fuel price in Korea will lead to complaints. The government follows.

When it comes to CO2 reduction plans, the Korean government is clever in the way it announces the plans. Press releases mention reductions of 20%, 30% or 40%, depending on when the report was written and on the target year. You need to dive into the underlying report (as always) to find the details. While Europe’s reductions are compared to a fixed year in the past (often 1990?), Korea’s reductions are reductions compared to “business as usual”. So 30% of reduction in Korea, could mean no change in the absolute amount of reduction.

nw sage
May 9, 2019 4:31 pm

It is not at all surprising that consumers object – sometimes now, sometimes later – to the idea that any artificial cost added to the price of gas (or anything for that matter) is acceptable. The price should include only those costs necessary to produce an item or produce. Competition and free trade assures this according to the Law of Supply and Demand. Interference by monopoly forces – and government is a monopoly – will not survive in a free market.

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