Taxing our Way to a Greener Future


Nobody likes taxes, especially businesses. Who wants to lose hard-earned money? A business’s bottom line is something they hold very near and dear that’s why we have to hurt it if we want to force businesses to change their fossil fuel-burning way. 

If we want companies to reduce their carbon emissions we need to make producing emissions costly, and what better way to do that than to make a carbon emissions tax? The tax would be a direct attack on their bottom line. A business would do anything to maximize profits, including turning to renewable energy once carbon became more costly. 

We know a carbon tax will work to lower emissions in the US because it precisely did that when it was created in Europe. According to a study by Jessica Green that compiled all results of how well C-taxes were working, there was a huge reduction in carbon emissions in most places the tax was applied.

The UK saw a near 25% drop in carbon emissions overall in just four years after it went into effect. If the tax works in nearly 30 countries, then there is no reason it can’t work here. 

The U.S. is very similar to England industry-wise which makes the idea that the tax will work here a safe assumption. To avoid or minimize the tax, the industry turns to a new energy source that emits less carbon which is renewable energy.

We aren’t reinventing the wheel here, we can do the exact same thing as about 30 other countries, and ideally, we will see the exact same results. There is no reason we shouldn’t see the same results, at the very least, as America’s current setup is economically similar to most other countries’ economical structures. We have to curb emissions somehow, so why not pick a way that is proven to work?  

It’s worth noting that even if we don’t start our own emissions tax, that doesn’t mean businesses here won’t have to pay one; the E.U. is currently creating an emissions tax for imports into countries within the European Union’s borders. This is the E.U. trying to curb all possible emissions that can be linked to their country in an attempt to hit net zero emissions. So whether the money is paid to our government or another, businesses will still lose out on possible profits.

The sheer cost of the European tax will force businesses here to go solar; take Vista Energy, the single biggest polluter in America in 2019, according to The Greenhouse Top 100 Polluters. The company would have two choices if the tax went into effect with an average rate of $58 per ton; it would go bankrupt with the 7 billion dollar tax for just one year, as opposed to the estimated half a billion to go mostly, if not entirely solar.

At the end of the day, any decent size business is out to make as much money as possible. No company would choose to pay more taxes when a cheaper option is readily available.

Now it has been argued that the tax doesn’t always work, and that’s true in only two places the tax was applied. Both of those places come with important extra details, as, yes, Spain’s taxes had little effect because, unlike other taxes, they only applied to select emissions, not all.

In Japan’s case, there was no substantial reduction in reports in Tokyo as Japan is already known as a very green country and was emitting fewer emissions to start with, so there were less dramatic reductions found in the study. These places should be considered outliers in the complied data as they aren’t in the same frame of reference. The majority of cases are what would be implemented here, an all-encompassing emissions tax on a relatively fossil fuel-dependent country. That’s why we can be certain that the results seen previously will be seen again if the emissions tax is created.

The tests have been run, and the results are in: it’s time to tax. Its been proven that the tax leads to a drop in emissions and drives companies to renewable energy, so what are we waiting for?

If we know it works, and other countries are able to implement the tax and feel it works so well they are trying to tax imports; maybe the issue isn’t the tax itself but the fact that most of the politicians responsible for making these decisions run businesses themselves and what wouldn’t a business owner do to save money?