The Conservative Case for a Carbon Tax
Historically, the concept of a carbon tax has been something a nonstarter, given conservatives’ deep-seated antipathy to the idea of raising taxes. But that could change, if conservatives come to see why a carbon tax may not be so antithetical to their values after all. In a recent op ed, thinktank director Ian Adam outlines a rationale for why conservatives may actually want to support a carbon tax.
Taxing something harmful (carbon emissions) instead of something desirable (income and investments) could help better align policy incentives, Adam writes. Moreover, revenue from a carbon tax could be used to eliminate and offset so-called death taxes and capital gains taxes, which conservatives have long abhorred. Adam’s argument is just one example of how skilled communicators can reframe climate change and climate solutions in a way that appeals to values beyond those of environmentalists and liberals. To learn more about how to do this, check out ecoAmerica’s suite of research products on climate attitudes, values, and messaging.
Ian Adams, Contributor to The Oregonian and California Director of The R Street Institute
Conservatives are conditioned to wince at the mention of the word “tax.” Mention the term “carbon tax,” and many will recoil altogether. Still, in the only place in North America where a carbon tax has been introduced, it has been something of a success. U.S. states in the Pacific Northwest are beginning to take notice.
Canada’s British Columbia introduced a carbon tax in 2008. Designed to be revenue neutral, the tax places a price on carbon dioxide emissions, while simultaneously offsetting the cost of implementation with tax reductions in other areas. Thus, B.C. has been able to cut more than $760 million worth of income and other taxes.
Image credit: AP Photo/Rob Griffith via The Oregonian