An article on New Scientist reports that a 2018 online survey by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich found the majority of people in the U.S. support a carbon tax. If the money goes into funding renewable energy or comes back as a rebate.
- Current global carbon taxes are mostly symbolic without making a difference.
- In fear of backlash, politicians have been hesitant about imposing a meaningful tax.
- A survey shows that people in the U.S. aren’t opposed to paying more if the funds go towards renewables or consumer rebates.
Currently, the carbon tax is applied to companies that extract or import fossil fuels. Instead of taking the hit for the charge, these companies pass along the costs to consumers with higher prices. With this theoretical proposal, consumers would be directly taxed for consumption.
People don’t mind paying a carbon tax if they think the money is going to fund renewable energy options. (Photo: Getty Images)
In the survey of 3,000 people, the majority (57% percent) supported a tax at $50 per ton with the proceeds going towards renewables, while the second choice was for a rebate in a tax and dividend structure. Interestingly, around 40 percent were still willing to let corporations benefit from the credit.
Consumer support related to cost
When survey participants were randomly asked about their support of carbon taxes ranging from $10 to $70 per ton, perhaps predictably, enthusiasm for the tax dropped as the cost rose. Within that range, consumers were looking at an increase of between $144 and $1008 a year. New Scientist reported that carbon would need to be taxed at $50 per ton to make a significant difference in reducing emissions.
With the tax and dividend model, people are incentivized to make more environmentally friendly choices. Those who buy more products pay more in tax while still receiving the same rebate as everyone else.
WHY THIS MATTERS
Most countries don’t have a meaningful carbon tax because politicians worry about keeping their jobs if one is imposed. This survey is one piece of evidence that citizens are more concerned about saving the environment than saving money.