Why carbon taxes won't save the environment
"There is no economic mechanism that can substitute for the initiative of an aroused populace." Socialist scholar and historian John Riddell has kindly given us permission to publish this letter, which he wrote to a Canadian green activist who supports carbon taxes as a means of fighting greenhouse gas emissions. It was so good of you to take time today to talk to me about your work on global warming.... I am looking forward to discussing some of these issues further. In anticipation of that, here's a thought on carbon taxes. Whether extracted at the source or at point of consumption, carbon taxes aim to alter behavior by changing the price structure. The idea is that if fossil-fuel energy is more expensive, we will turn to alternatives. We are experiencing a big experiment with this notion: the enormous increase in the price of gasoline. It has indeed produced a change in behavior, but only a very small, marginal one. Price increases of this sort will not persuade very many people to