Climate Change: The Power of Taxes
About This Class
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions requires long-term changes in behavior, and in a capitalist society, industry, businesses, and consumers respond to prices. Increases in the cost of greenhouse gases can reduce emissions, and reductions in the price of alternatives to fossil fuels can increase their use. This seminar explores the ways in which tax systems in the United States and elsewhere can send these negative and positive price signals. Addressing issues of theory, policy, politics, and law, the seminar will cover topics such as: carbon taxes and other energy taxes; the relative merits of carbon taxes and a cap-and-trade approach; federal tax incentives for renewable energy, alternative fuel vehicles, and energy conservation; the role of land conservation tax incentives in reducing greenhouse gas emissions; the repeal of tax subsidies for fossil fuels; and the interaction of tax measures and command-and-control regulation. While focusing on climate change, the seminar will provide students with the framework for understanding how and when to use tax measures to address other environmental problems as well.