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Benefits of Carbon Taxing

In the past, the thought of carbon taxing prompted within many Americans an internal groan at the thought of paying more money for our gas use.

But a recent survey from December shows that most Americans would support the proposal of carbon taxing, with 70 percent in favor. Especially as taxing big corporations for their use of fuel could inspire the application of cleaner strategies, while the money made from taxing could go towards funding environmental solution programs and the creation of green jobs.

Not only would carbon taxes help curb the escalating release of carbon emissions, but could also reduce the nation’s deficit.

Perhaps for this reason, even economists from across the board are in favor of carbon taxing. Of course climate change and economic distress often intertwine and recent natural disasters are only adding to our deficit. Hurricane Sandy cost New Jersey $29 billion, and in New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says his state will need $42 billion in recovery costs. In total, the extreme weather of 2011-2012 cost the U.S. $126 billion. We certainly don’t want to supplement these costs by cutting education or environmental funding, which would only feed into the viscous cycle.

It would better suite the situation to reduce our deficit while decreasing the negative impact on the environment that instigates some of this debt at the same time.

We wouldn’t be the first to tax on our carbon usage. A few years back, in 2008, Ireland began carbon taxing and it seems to be working.  In Ireland the cost of gas now hovers around the equivalent of $8 per gallon. While a majority of the American population may undoubtedly find this price astronomical if consulting the sum of a full tank, its implementation has been successful in reducing the Emerald Isle’s fuel consumption.

This may not be surprising considering the desire to reduce costs, especially during recessions. However, in 2011, a year of financial growth for Ireland, fuel usage still continued to decrease by 6.7 percent. Showing that a behavioral change is taking place as well. Overall, Ireland has reduced its emissions by 15 percent since the adoption of the tax in 2008.

While we are all aware of climate change, and most of us concerned of our individual contribution to its impact, it may take more drastic measures of environmental law to create action and a permanent change of behavior.

Yet, despite recent inclinations towards carbon taxing, there are, according to the White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, “no intention of proposing a carbon tax.”

Perhaps we are still in need of a little push.

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