Pay for pollution now or pay for pollution later, says Gilbert Metcalf, John DiBaggio Professor of Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts University. The recent author of Paying for Pollution: Why a Carbon Tax is Good For America, is urging the state and nation to establish a price on carbon.
Carbon taxes set a fee on fossil fuels to account for the damage those fuels cause to the environment. These fees incentivize shifts away from the most damaging fuels to cleaner options.
According to Metcalf, the United States could meet its obligations under the Paris Climate Accord by setting a $40/ton price on carbon. That means businesses and households would pay $40 for every ton of carbon dioxide they emitted. A $40/ton carbon fee would raise the cost of gas by .36 a gallon but would double the price of coal. Power plants that rely on coal would move away from coal to natural gas and renewables.
Metcalf advocates for a revenue neutral carbon fee. He would like to see all the money raised through carbon fees returned to households via rebates and he also advocates for rebate structures that are progressive, providing greatest benefit to lower income households.
Read Tufts Magazine’s interview with Professor Metcalf here.