Enciclopédia da Energia Natural   CPMA.COMUNIDADES.NET
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Enciclopédia da Energia Natural CPMA.COMUNIDADES.NET


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Relevant Websites
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(EU Emissions Trading System)
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http://www.un-redd.org/ \u2013 United Nations REDD Programme
8 Climate Change and Policy | Carbon Offsets
Carbon Taxes
GE Metcalf, Tufts University, Medford, MA, USA; NBER, Cambridge, MA, USA
D Weisbach, University of Chicago Law School, Chicago, IL, USA
ã 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Introduction
A carbon tax is a tax on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The
purpose of a carbon tax is to internalize externalities associated
with anthropogenic climate change. Without a carbon tax, in-
dividuals face a distorted set of prices. Activities that result in
GHG emissions are relatively too cheap because individuals
will not consider the costs the emissions impose on others,
including on future generations. A tax forces individuals to
consider the full set of consequences from emissions. A carbon
tax is an example of a Pigouvian tax, and a carbon tax or an
equivalent property rights system, such as a cap and trade
system, is necessary for market outcomes to be optimal.
The central issues in the design of a carbon tax are (1) the
tax rate including adjustments to the rate over time, (2) the tax
base, particularly the extent to which it should apply to emis-
sions of GHGs other than carbon dioxide from fossil fuel
combustion (3) the place of imposition of the tax (such as
directly on emissions or on the embedded GHG inputs used in
production), and (4) the treatment of trade in energy-intensive
goods. The article begins with a review of existing or proposed
carbon taxes and then reviews each of the central issues in the
design of a carbon tax. Finally, the incidence of carbon taxes is
considered and the choice between a carbon tax and a cap and
trade system briefly reviewed.
Carbon Taxes in Practice
Neither the United States nor the rest of the world makes any
significant use of taxes explicitly on carbon. As of 2011, only six
countries explicitly taxed carbon, the five Scandinavian coun-
tries and the United Kingdom. There were also a number of
subnational regimes (such as the carbon taxes in British
Columbia and Quebec). There are, however, a wide variety of
taxes on, and subsidies for, energy (as well as a wide variety
of regulatory regimes for GHGs). For example, the European
Union (EU), in its 2003 Energy Tax Directive, requires speci-
fied taxes on fuel uses of energy. Although not designed to set
a uniform price for carbon across different types of energy,
energy taxes and subsidies will undoubtedly affect carbon
emissions. The EU Energy Tax Directive, for example, is often
thought of as part of the EU\u2019s emissions reduction policy.
The Scandinavian countries adopted carbon taxes in the
1990s. These taxes have narrow bases and do not impose a
uniform tax on emissions from the sources that they do cover.
Instead, they provide a wide variety of different rates.
Finland was the first country to impose a carbon tax in 1990
as a surtax on the carbon content of fossil fuels. The rate in
2011 was \u20ac50 per ton CO2 for motor vehicle fuels and \u20ac30 per
ton CO2 for heating fuels. The tax is bundled with an energy tax
and a strategic stockpile fee. For example, the total tax on
gasoline is \u20ac0.627 per liter, of which \u20ac0.504 is an energy
component, \u20ac0.117 the carbon tax, and \u20ac0.007 the strategic
stockpile fee.
The Scandinavian carbon taxes are incomplete in coverage.
The Norwegian carbon tax, for example, covers about 64% of
CO2 emissions and 49% of total GHG emissions. The impact
of the tax is weakened by numerous exemptions related to
competitiveness concerns. Moreover, the tax does not accu-
rately reflect variations in emissions across fuels. Finally, even
though the Scandinavian countries are relatively similar and
each adopted a carbon tax, they differed considerably in what
they included in the tax base and what tax rate they applied to
different sectors. This makes it difficult for these neighboring
countries to harmonize their taxes.
The Netherlands enacted a carbon tax in 1990. In 1992, this
tax was replaced with a tax on energy. Currently, they do not
have a carbon tax per se but have a tax on coal at the rate of
\u20ac12.95 per metric ton of coal manufactured or imported into
the country. They also have an energy