In advance of global climate talks set to continue in Paris this November, the United States announced an ambitious goal last fall: to reduce the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28 percent below 2005 levels over the next decade.
According to the White House, achieving this target would require the United States to roughly double the current pace of reductions in carbon pollution. In 2013, U.S. carbon emissions totaled nearly 6.7 million metric tons – making America the world’s second-largest producer of carbon emissions after China.
Across the political spectrum, experts increasingly agree that that the most direct and efficient way to reduce carbon is to put a tax on it. In British Columbia, for example, per capita fuel consumption has dropped by 16 percent since a carbon tax was introduced in 2008 – compared to rising consumption in the rest of Canada. The province has also continued to enjoy a healthy rate of economic growth at 2 percent per year. As an op-ed in the Globe and Mail put it:”It works.”
Where there’s less agreement is how to structure a carbon tax – and most importantly, how to spend the money it would raise.