Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Case for CATs

I have been working on this paper in bits and pieces since the summer. It is a position paper advocating a "Carbon Added Tax" on embodied emissions.

This is the intro:
A Carbon Added Tax (CAT) is like a sales tax on the carbon emitted to produce the goods and services we consume. From the CAT perspective, when you buy say, a computer, you are responsible for the carbon emitted in producing its mother board and the hard disk and each subcomponent in the computer, as well as that emitted from the fuel burnt by ships and trucks transporting it, and to power the electricity in the shop selling it. A CAT levies a tax on the consumer for all this “embodied” carbon, at the point of sale.

This paper argues that a CAT represents a better way to affect global carbon emissions, because it leverages the global nature of the world economy to cut through geographic and legislative boundaries. The paper also addresses the major arguments against the CAT – the assumed difficulty of measuring embodied carbon and administering the tax. It discusses the latest developments in this area, and proposes structural incentives to overcome those obstacles.
And here is what's in it:
The Moral Imperative: Consumer vs Producer Responsibility
The Quantitative Impact of the Consumer Responsibility Perspective
The Economics: A Global Public Good
Structural Problems with the Producer Responsibility Paradigm
The CAT in Practice
Accounting View: Counting Carbon for CATs
A Philosophical Note: Archimedes’ Lever
A Time to CAT?



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