Majority Support a Carbon Tax & Using Its Revenue for Renewable Energy Development

All the support towards fighting climate change is helpful, as even a small power can be useful. A carbon tax is basically a tax on fuel usage that pollutes carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

The majority of Americans support implementing a carbon tax as a way to curb fossil fuel emissions, according to a new study from Yale University published today in Environmental Research Letters. Moreover, if a carbon tax were implemented, 80 percent of respondents said they would favor using the revenue from this tax to develop clean energy and improve US infrastructure, such as roads and bridges.

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Under the Republican scheme, the tax would initially charge $40 per ton of carbon dioxide produced, resulting in an estimated $200 billion per year in revenue, and the amount would go up over time. This would in turn be paid out in tax-free dividends to US families, amounting to about $2000 annually for a family of four.

The Yale researchers wanted to see if Americans would be in favor of using that tax to further combat climate change instead.

“What we aimed to find out was whether there was support among the American public for a carbon tax to address climate change,” Matthew Kotchen, a professor of economics at Yale, said in a statement. “Specifically, we also wanted to discover how much they were willing to pay, and how they would prefer the revenue from the tax to be used.”

In a nationally representative survey of 1,226 American adults, Kotchen and his colleagues gave respondents ten different ways to spend the revenue from a carbon tax and asked whether or not they would support each of these expenditures.

According to the results, most respondents (nearly 80 percent) were in favor of using the carbon tax revenue for developing renewable energy, or fixing America’s infrastructure, like roads and bridges. Moreover, the average American household was willing to pay around $177 per year in a carbon tax on its energy bills, which by itself would amount to $22 billion in revenue annually.

“Interestingly, our analysis indicates strong public support—more than 70 percent—for using some portion of the carbon-tax revenue to compensate coal miners whose jobs are affected by a reduction in the use of fossil fuels,” Kotchen said. “By our calculations, there would be enough revenue from this tax to compensate all coal miners with nearly $146,000 upon the passage of the tax.”

A carbon tax would punish the environmentally-destructive behavior of the fossil fuel industry, and the rate should be much higher on them than on most of the population. The reason I give for this is the studies showing that 90 companies have caused about two-thirds of historical greenhouse gas emissions.

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