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Sierra Daily

Oct 25, 2010

A Conservative Carbon Tax?

Could environmentalists be the wrong ones to pushfor action on climate change? The Intertubes are all aflutter with news of the discovery of a new species: the climate hawk, one of those who "understand climate change and support clean energy but do not share the rest of the ideological and sociocultural commitments that define environmentalism as historically understood in the U.S."

Personally, I wouldn't mind if someone didn't like cute furry creatures as long as they could get tough climate legislation past Congress. Just look at what's going on across the pond, where the United Kingdom's ruling Conservative Party is instituting a $1.5-billion carbon tax on 4,000 of the country's largest businesses. As part of the new government's enormous deficit-reduction push, any company or public-sector body that uses more than 6,000 megawatt hours of electricity a year will pay a price of £13 per ton (excuse me, "tonne") for starters. Originally the money collected through this "Carbon Reduction Commitment" was to be returned to the most energy efficient companies--what we call in this country a "feebate." Times being what they are, however, the fees will now go to help relieve Britain's massive deficit.

Could it catch on here? We've got the big deficit; no one in Washington is showing much enthusiasm for raising personal taxes; and even politicians running on platforms of deficit reduction are having a hard time identifying any government programs they might actually cut. All we need to do is to get the climate hawks to crossbreed with the deficit hawks and we're on our way.

--Paul Rauber


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