U.S. Could Halve Emissions Using Only a Carbon Tax

April 19, 2021
By Dean Scott

The U.S. could halve its emissions of planet-warming carbon dioxide by 2035, solely by adopting a carbon tax, the Climate Leadership Council said in a report out today, Dean Scott reports. “A carbon fee at the heart of a U.S. climate strategy will go further, faster than any other single policy intervention,” former EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman wrote in a foreword to the report.

Putting a fee on the carbon content of fossil fuels would cut CO2 emissions by 51% by 2035. A fee in concert with energy efficiency and other climate policies—such as better forest and land management—could halve those emissions by 2030, according to the report, Meeting the Climate Challenge: A Carbon Fee Should Be the Centerpiece of America’s Climate Strategy.

Those reductions are based on an initial $40 per ton carbon tax, applied economy-wide on coal, oil, and other fossil fuels and implemented in 2023. A carbon tax also could cut air pollution by as much as half across the U.S., as the additional cost would prod utilities and industries to boost energy efficiency and switch to low-carbon energy sources such as renewables, the report said.