Sep 25, 2019

The semantics of carbon pricing ahead of 2020

A new Emerson College poll suggests that the wording around carbon pricing — whether voters support a carbon "tax" versus a carbon "fine on corporations" — could matter a lot.

Why it matters: Several 2020 White House hopefuls — including Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren — have endorsed some kind of pricing, though details are scarce.

What they found: Emerson polled slightly over 1,000 voters on Sept. 21–23.

  • The question: "Would you support or oppose a carbon tax?" The answer: 35% supported it, 27% opposed and 38% percent were unsure. (Margin of error is 4.9%.)
  • The question, posed to the other half of the group: "Would you support or oppose a fine on corporations that pollute the air with carbon dioxide?” The answer: 52% supported it, 25% opposed and 24% were unsure. (MOE is 4.3%.)

But, but, but: The level of public support for a given policy is just loosely related to its chances of advancement.

  • Needless to say, there are all kinds of detailed policy design questions beyond the scope of these 30,000-foot level questions.
  • But generally speaking, a fine on companies would probably seep through into their prices.

Go deeper: Carbon tax campaign unveils new details and backers

Editor's note: This story has been clarified to reflect that, when asked about a "carbon tax," 35% of voters polled by Emerson supported the measure and 27% opposed it.

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The IMF wants major carbon taxes to fight climate change

IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The International Monetary Fund is calling on major greenhouse gas-emitting countries to implement carbon taxes that reach $75-per-ton by 2030 to bolster today's "inadequate" responses to climate change.

Why it matters: Their new report says the window for keeping temperature rise to manageable levels is "closing rapidly" and that "limiting global warming to 2°C or less requires policy measures on an ambitious scale."

Go deeperArrowOct 11, 2019

Study suggests a new structure for a carbon tax

Photo: Florian Gaertner/Photothek via Getty Images)

A new peer-reviewed paper cuts against the grain by concluding that the most effective carbon tax structure should start high and decline over time.

Why it matters: It breaks with carbon tax bills floating around Congress and other proposals that begin modestly and then escalate.

Go deeperArrowOct 2, 2019

Big oil R&D in clean tech is hard to pin down

Data: BloombergNEF; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

How much research and development big oil companies are putting into cleantech is one of the few concrete metrics to gauge the industry’s varying shifts toward cleaner energy.

Between the lines: Pinning that figure down is tricky because many companies don’t disclose and even those that do use definitions that vary widely for what constitutes cleaner energy or low-carbon.

Go deeperArrowOct 15, 2019