Using a Carbon Tax to Meet US International Climate Pledges

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Dec. 12, 2018


Journal Article

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The United States is currently on pace to fall well short of its promises to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26–28%, relative to 2005, by 2025, under the UN Framework and Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Paris Agreement, even if President Trump did not eliminate most Obama-era climate regulations. However, there still exists interest in reducing emissions, especially from some members of Congress, and there are a number of federal policy options to reduce greenhouse gas emissions if Congress (or a new administration in 2021) so chooses. In this paper, we show that a federal economy-wide carbon tax on US carbon dioxide emissions could significantly contribute to the reductions necessary to fulfill the US international climate commitments. Using a detailed multi-sector computable general equilibrium (CGE) model, we predict the carbon price paths that would be necessary to meet the 28% emissions target and show the economic costs of such carbon-pricing policies. We then demonstrate how both the price paths and associated costs change if action is delayed.


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