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Carbon Taxation: A Tale of Three Countries

Journal article
Authors Patrick Criqui
Mark Jaccard
Thomas Sterner
Published in Sustainability
Volume 2019
Issue 11
ISSN 2071-1050
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Economics
Language en
Links https://doi.org/10.3390/su11226280
Keywords GHG abatement, environmental policy, economic instruments, carbon tax, cost-effectiveness, acceptability
Subject categories Economics

Abstract

Carbon pricing is considered by most economists as a central dimension to any climate policy. It is assumed to bring simple, transparent, and cost-effective means to change investment and consumption behaviors. The most straightforward method is carbon taxation, but its implementation is more complex. This study provides a comparative analysis of carbon taxation in three countries—Sweden, Canada, and France—aimed at drawing lessons for the future of carbon taxation. Comparing the experience of the three countries reveals that carbon taxes, once in place, do have the intended effect. In this sense, they work well. However, the analysis also reveals very different situations in terms of advances, difficulties, and results, which highlights the need to carefully consider the social and political conditions for the acceptance and effective implementation of such economic instruments. Against this background, the comparative analysis yields four main insights that deserve further research from economics and social scientists: the ability to combine pure economic instruments and other regulation or policies and measures; the management of lobbies and vested interests; the identification of a clear strategy for the recycling of the carbon revenues, whether earmarked or not; and finally, the importance of these three dimensions of carbon taxes in the new settings of zero net emission policies.

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