Why greens are turning away from a carbon tax

  • Putting an economic price on greenhouse gases is proving a hard sell with the public, even as time to head off climate change shrinks.

Zach Colman, Eric Wolf  Read full Politico article here

Taxing carbon to tackle climate change is one of those big ideas that have long held a kind of bipartisan sway in Washington — endorsed by Al Gore and former members of Ronald Reagan’s Cabinet, economists from both parties and even Exxon Mobil.

But environmentalists are increasingly ready to look elsewhere.

This month’s fuel-tax riots in Paris and the defeat of a carbon-fee ballot measure in Washington state show the difficulty of getting people to support a levy on the energy sources that heat their homes and power their cars. Meanwhile, even the most liberal Democratic candidates this year gave carbon taxes scant if any mention in their climate platforms, focusing instead on proposals like a phaseout of fossil fuels and massive investments in wind and solar power.

The story of the carbon tax’s fading appeal, even among groups that like it in principle, shows the difficulties of crafting a politically palatable solution to one of the world’s most urgent problems — including greenhouse gas levels that are on track to reach a record high this year……

….Some plans would direct the money to investments in clean energy investments, or — in the case of Washington state’s proposal — toward helping communities suffering from the effects of climate change or the closure of fossil fuel industries. Others, such as a plan backed by former Republican Secretaries of State George Shultz and James Baker, would also phase out existing carbon regulations.

But the Washington state proposal won the support of just 43 percent of voters last month, after a barrage of oil and gas industry lobbying opposing the carbon fee. The reaction was violent in Paris, where days of riots forced French President Emmanuel Macron to scrap a 6.5-cent fuel tax that had been aimed partly at weaning motorists off diesel and gasoline….