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Implementing Carbon Taxes: Considerations, Realities, and Lessons Learned

Bloomberg BNA’s expert authors analyze “true” carbon taxes --- taxes based only on carbon dioxide or carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions --- as opposed to those based on some activity that may produce carbon emissions.  Examining three case studies of countries that have successfully imposed carbon taxes, this article provides an overview of positive and negative aspects of such taxes, drawing lessons from how they are practically executed.

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By Claudia O’Brien, Miles Farmer, Michael Dreibelbis, & C. Genevieve Jenkins 

As the scientific community has come to a consensus that anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions are the most significant contributor to climate change, several countries have moved—at widely varying speeds—toward legislation intended to limit greenhouse gas emissions. This legislation sometimes takes the form of a tax on greenhouse gases generically referred to as “carbon taxes.” This article evaluates only taxes based on carbon dioxide or carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions, as opposed to those based on some activity that may produce carbon emissions. These “true” carbon taxes were considered because they precisely target the policy objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, while energy consumption taxes are often uncorrelated with the amount of carbon emitted by burning a fuel and do not directly incentivize emissions reductions. This article examines three case studies of countries that have successfully imposed carbon taxes. It then provides an overview of positive and negative aspects of such taxes, drawing lessons from how they are practically executed.


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