Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Regressivity of Carbon Policy

A story in today's Oregonian on the difficulties facing local hunger-relief organizations due to high gas prices spotlights one of the problems with measures to combat global warming. A carbon-emissions reduction policy will raise the price of energy, which will hurt poor people the hardest. While the upper class can 'afford' an increase in their heating bills and transportation costs, those living on the margins are going to suffer as the price of everything increases. Anyone proposing strong policies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions should have to answer this criticism. I am not necessarily saying that a carbon tax (or whatever your preferred policy might be) is something we definitely shouldn't do, but that we need to be aware of the costs and benefits of these policies and who they end up helping and hurting.


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