While carbon tax measures have not yet met with success at the federal level in the United States, proposals for carbon taxes emerged in a handful of states in 2015 and 2016. The proposals address the shared challenge of climate change, but each has its own unique features and setting. Drawing on proposals in Oregon, Massachusetts, Vermont and Washington as case studies, this chapter explores how state constitutions can affect the design of state-level carbon taxes and their legislative route toward enactment. For example, the Oregon constitution imposes limits on tax rates and use of the revenue when taxing certain fossil fuels. The constitutions in three of the four states require that some types of revenue measures must originate in the legislative House of Representatives, not the Senate, raising the question whether carbon taxes can be designed in a manner that will avoid this procedural constraint. In Washington, the carbon tax proposal came forward as a ballot initiative that went to voters in the general election, following a procedure permitted under the state constitution. These case studies serve as an important reminder of how constitutional provisions that were not created with climate change in mind can influence the design features of subnational carbon taxes and political strategies.
Browse by title
Claudia Kettner and Daniela Kletzan-Slamanig
In the EU CO2 emissions from industry and energy supply are regulated under the EU Emission Trading Scheme. In contrast, emissions from private households, transport and other small sources are regulated on the Member State level as no comprehensive EU policy strategy is in place for these sectors. Policy instruments specific to the transport sector include fuel taxes, vehicle registration taxes and ownership taxes, which can each contain a specific CO2 component, as well as performance standards and road pricing schemes. This chapter includes an empirical analysis of energy and carbon taxes in the transport sector for the EU Member States focusing on an assessment of fuel tax rates as well as on registration and ownership taxation of passenger cars. It is shown that Member States' tax systems still exhibit pronounced differences with respect to both tax categories. Taxation can make a significant contribution towards achieving emission reductions in the transport sector and should be given more weight by Member States in view of achieving their greenhouse gas reduction targets.
Bettina Bahn-Walkowiak, Henning Wilts, Mark Meyer and Martin Distelkamp
Against the background of the question which role tax based instruments have to play in policy mixes to counteract the unbroken growth trend of global resource use, this chapter initially describes how the insights from a country comparative study on national resource policy frameworks could be linked to instruments for the internalisation of external environmental costs on a European scale. On the basis of a project specific but substantiated resource use vision and potential governance principles for three transition processes to reach the goals, the tax concepts are subsequently connected to simulation scenarios in order to illustrate the resource impacts that could be achieved by those policy reforms. Conclusively, barriers to such fundamental changes of framework conditions are briefly reflected upon and some conclusions are drawn.
Hans Sprohge and Larry Kreiser
In the United States (U.S.), subsidies and tax preferences for generating electricity from nuclear energy provide incentives for creating difficult to remediate environmental damage. Nuclear energy is erroneously claimed by proponents as an environmentally friendly way to meet the country’s energy needs. Energy can be extracted from atoms either through fusion or fission. Theoretically, energy from fusion is limitless without any environmental consequences. The problem is that energy from fusion is not possible under current technology. Although it is true that the process of fission per se does not emit any greenhouse gases, it is not true that electricity generated by nuclear power plants is environmentally friendly. Over their life cycle, nuclear power plants emit greenhouse gases. The worst threat is posed by radiation from nuclear power plant accidents and from nuclear waste. Countless studies about the impact of this radiation on human health and the environment are contradictory. Some studies assert that the impact is not all that bad; other studies assert that the impact is devastating. Determining which position is correct is a difficult task. In light of the known and contradictory claims about the environmental and human health impact of nuclear energy, the issue in the U.S. is whether any new nuclear power plants should be granted subsidies and tax incentives. Prudence suggests erring on the side of caution. The chapter commences by first explaining the essence of nuclear energy and then examining the advantages and disadvantages of fusion and fission; subsequently, the chapter examines the U.S. nuclear industry, its subsidies, tax incentives and environmental effects.
Sven Rudolph, Takeshi Kawakatsu and Achim Lerch
While the Paris agreement certainly gives hope for effective global climate protection, it has to be substantiated by concrete policy programs. Regional or local market-based mitigation measures provide a promising supplement to national policies. Some regions and municipalities have already successfully implemented carbon taxes and carbon cap-and-trade such as the US North East, British Columbia and Tokyo. While national carbon markets have remained politically deadlocked in the US and Canada, particularly promising regional schemes have appeared, an international linkage has been established between California and Québec, and more programs and linkages are under way. Despite of some criticism, ambitious carbon markets promise to minimize compliance costs and achieve pre-set targets accurately. In addition, linkages between sub-national schemes can increase the economic efficiency and environmental effectiveness, and help in developing national or even international carbon markets from the bottom-up. But, effectiveness and efficiency alone do not suffice. Social justice was one of the founding principles of sustainability; it has become an increasingly important issue in climate policy, and recent policy debates have been forced to reconsider questions such as electricity price effects and the use of carbon pricing revenues. As research on the sustainability of regional carbon market linkages in North America is virtually non-existent, in our chapter we ask if and how these linkages can foster efficient, effective and fair climate policy in the US and Canada. We do so by, first, reviewing the arguments on efficient and effective carbon market design and linking and then adding a social justice component. Second, we give an overview of established and upcoming carbon markets in Canada and the US and identify the chances and barriers of linking. Third, we evaluate the programs based on sustainability criteria and analyze the prospects for linking. We show that North America has a new historic chance to act as a role model for sustainable climate policy developed from the bottom-up by linking sub-national carbon markets.
Anett Großmann and Christian Lutz
This chapter reports results of the study “Approaches for further development of public finances” conducted by F…S, …ko-Institute and GWS for the German Federal Environmental Agency between 2014 and 2016. Currently, numerous exemptions from taxes, levies and fees reduce energy prices, particularly those of (energy-intensive) manufacturing industries to prevent negative effects on production and carbon leakage. Lower energy prices reduce incentives for energy efficiency as well as prices for energy intensively manufactured products. Within the project a practical and smart proposal for the reform and harmonisation of current exemptions has been developed. In the reform scenario, existing regulations are harmonised with a focus on the electricity tax and renewable energy sources act (EEG) levy. A 3-level rebate system considering the level of competition and energy intensity is proposed. Continued exemptions require efficiency measures and are granted as a reimbursement according to product benchmarks. A MIN and MAX scenario shows the full range of possible price changes according to the rebates. The reform impacts are calculated at industry level and for different user groups. Electricity price changes range from -1.35 €Cent/kWh for private households and the service sector to +5.2 €Cent/kWh for manufacturing industries. The macroeconomic model PANTA RHEI is used to evaluate the impacts on economy and environment. The economic core of the model consists of input-output tables, the system of national accounts and the labour market. The model also includes energy balances, energy prices plus emissions of greenhouse gases and other air pollutants. Energy price differences induced by the reform concept have been implemented in PANTA RHEI on industry level. It is assumed that additional revenue from environmental taxes is used to reduce labour costs and to improve the energy efficiency of the service sector likewise. All other exogenous variables (e. g. population) and model relations are the same in the reference and in the reform scenario. Differences in results can be interpreted as consequences of the reform. Results show slightly positive macroeconomic and environmental impacts of the reform. GDP, consumption and employment are higher in the reform scenario compared to business-as-usual. Greenhouse gas emissions, emissions of air pollutants and consumption of materials are lower. Some “double dividend” can be observed.
Most theoretical models highlight the effectiveness of taxes to mitigate carbon dioxide emissions, yet little empirical evidence exists to support it. This chapter examines the real effects of carbon taxes on emissions and on carbon leakage in the European Union. The goal is to evaluate the implications of existing carbon taxes in order to shed some light on policy design. I exploit the incorporation of unilateral carbon taxes in some Member States and implement a difference-in-difference approach under various specifications, using panel data from 1980 until 2008. Results suggest that there is no compelling evidence of taxes reducing the level or growth of carbon emissions, or that they cause carbon leakage. The sub-optimal design of the policies, which include several exemptions for industrial sectors, may explain the null effects of the tax.
Andrea Illes, Marianne Kettunen, Patrick ten Brink, Rui Santos, Nils Droste and Irene Ring
Existing public funding for biodiversity conservation is widely acknowledged to be inadequate to finance the actions required to meet the EU’s biodiversity conservation targets, contributing to the global targets set by the Convention on Biological Diversity. Consequently, access to funding from other sectoral funding streams of the public domain, including through new and innovative means, is needed both in order to close the funding gap for biodiversity and to internalise the costs of conservation into sectoral activities that drive biodiversity loss. Environmental fiscal reform is considered to create several opportunities for complementing and mobilising resources for biodiversity funding. Environmental taxes, which either directly or indirectly support biodiversity, biodiversity-related environmental fees and charges (e.g. hunting charges and nature park entrance fees), and environmental tax relief mechanisms that reward certain biodiversity-friendly activities or behaviour are examples of fiscal instruments that can be used to mobilise more funding for biodiversity. Furthermore, redistributing tax revenue among government levels according to ecological criteria (i.e. ecological fiscal transfers) can also be used to support the delivery of conservation objectives. All of these instruments have so far not been widely explored in the EU and its Member States but have a potential to complement the existing policy mix for biodiversity finance. This chapter provides a review of these fiscal instruments, highlighting a number of successful examples, and explores their possible role within the context of the overall framework for biodiversity financing.