A carbon tax is not a new idea; heck, The Economist proposed a carbon tax to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in l998. But the fact that a few idealistic conservatives (yes, the species still exists) are backing a carbon tax now is news. Especially since just two years ago Andrew Sullivan, the leader of the pack, was actively doubting the threat of climate change.
Better late than never, I say.
Among enviros, the consensus is that any tax actually able to reduce emissions substantially would be politlcally impossible to enact. I’m not so sure. I’m no expert, but I like the transparency of the idea, and its potential to change public attitudes from the bottom up.
An example: in California, where we love our cars, and where public transportation is reserved mostly for the poor and the young, the rise in gas prices has resulted in a leveling off of gas consumption since 2000…despite millions more drivers and vehicles. They said it wasn’t possible, but it is!
[graphic from the aforementioned LATimes story, drawn from state statistics]