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Carbon Tax vs. Cap and Trade

10:33 AM EDT on August 29, 2007

Congressional debate on climate change has revealed division among politicians on how to best regulate carbon emissions. From NPR's Marketplace, we get a report on the sharp difference between leading Democrats in both houses, Sen. Barbara Boxer (CA) and Rep. John Dingell (MI)

Boxer is quoted as preferring cap and trade, which seems to be most favored among politicians and big corporations as a way to leverage market forces to address climate change.

"I think cap and trade makes the most sense. When we pass legislation to combat global warming, we will not be hurting this economy. We will be helping it."

Dingell, however, favors a carbon tax as a more direct, visible and predictable means of reducing carbon emissions. He says,

To be fair, the economic pain must be shared all the way down to the consumer. And he says the way to do that is to tax anything that produces too much CO2. "This is going to be tough. And it's gonna cost, and its gonna hurt. In my view, probably the only thing that will really work. In all honesty, I'm not convinced that if you don't change people's behavior, you're going to change the way they behave."

The Carbon Tax Center has a page that explains why it thinks a carbon tax is the way to go. CTC co-director and Streetsblog contributor Charles Komanoff recently published a piece in favor of a carbon tax over at Gristmill. On the other side of the issue is the US Climate Change Action
Partnership, a group of major corporations and environmental
organizations in favor of a cap and trade system. Environmental Defense chief scientist Bill Chameides, wrote a piece in Gristmill as well laying out the case for a cap and trade system.

The debate between Carbon Tax and Cap and Trade is an important one that could lead to new federal legislation by the end of the year.

(Editor's note: Why do I always want to write it, "Cap'n Trade?")

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