Carbon tax might work, if revenue funds renewables

July 23, 2014

A July 21 report released by Barry Rabe, director of the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP), and collaborators at the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion, "Public Views on a Carbon Tax Depend on the Proposed Use of Revenue​," is receiving broad media attention.

In her July 22 article, "Poll: 60% back carbon tax if used for renewables," Wendy Koch of USA Today writes that while "most Americans oppose a carbon tax, considered by many economists a cost-effective way to fight climate change...a different picture emerges when survey participants are asked about three possible uses of the revenue."

In "A carbon tax even Republicans can support," Christopher Flavelle, writing for Bloomberg View, explains the survey's main findings: that opposition to a carbon tax can be softened, particularly Republican opposition, by pledging "to use the revenue to fund research into renewable energy."

In his opinion piece for the LA Times, "New survey: public likes carbon tax, with caveats," Jon Healy cautions against the conclusion that a carbon tax will fly through Congress. "This is just one survey, and the hostility expressed to a carbon tax that raised energy bills may be more telling than the thumbs up for one that supported renewable energy R&D," writes Healy. "Yet the support for the latter should give Congress something to think about should lawmakers ever agree to take action on climate change. (Insert your joke about hell freezing over here.)"

Barry Rabe is a professor of public policy at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and also holds appointments in the School of Natural Resources and Environment and the Program in the Environment. He is a non-resident senior fellow of governance studies at the Brookings Institution and is the editor of Greenhouse Governance: Addressing Climate Change in America (Brookings Institution Press, 2010).

Read the press release by Greta Guest, Michigan News, "Support for carbon tax grows when revenue fuels renewable energy."