Home > carbon pricing, climate, Dolan, libertarian, Prometheus Institute > "Pay Your Air Share" – Libertarian think tank advocates carbon taxes!

"Pay Your Air Share" – Libertarian think tank advocates carbon taxes!

1.  Check out the San Diego-based The Prometheus Institute, http://www.prometheusinstitute.net/, which has just launched a new website calling for carbon taxes: http://www.payyourairshare.org/.

They propose that:

  • A tax be levied on all major emitters of greenhouse gases, set so that fossil fuel prices will reflect their true social cost, which will create a seamless market-based incentive for the development of alternative energy.

  • Most of the revenue raised should be returned to the people in the form of an across-the-board income tax cut, but as the climate system has great inertia, a portion of the carbon tax revenues should support private sector and community-based projects to adapt to effects of climate change.

The site contains a number of articles to explain just how in the heck The Prometheus Institute (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prometheus_Institute) could convince itself to come up with this Pigouvian scheme. 

(h/t Greg Mankiw: http://gregmankiw.blogspot.com/2008/02/pi-joins-club.html)

2.  Another recent piece that I highly recommend is Edwin G. Dolan‘s “Global Warming: Rethinking the Market Liberal Position”, from the Fall 2006 issue of The Cato Journalwww.cato.org/pubs/journal/cj26n3/cj26n3-3.pdf.  Dolan argues that a Lockean position does not permit an easy dismissal of calls for policy changes relating to climate change.

FWIW, Dolan was the editor of the Austrian classic, The Foundations of Modern Austrian Economics (Kansas City: Sheed and Ward, 1976).

(h/t Donny with an A: http://mises.org/Community/members/Donny-with-an-A.aspx)

  1. TokyoTom
    February 20th, 2008 at 07:47 | #1

    Juan, obviously carbon taxes do not represent property rights, because they are imposed by the state and the proceeds not given to those who own the air or to those who experience costs from climate change. But what if a national trust was declared over the atmosphere, and any “users fees” charged directly returned per capita to citizens? Would that represent a property right?

  2. TokyoTom
    February 20th, 2008 at 07:43 | #2

    Peterus: “BTW If Mars was considered it’s obvious that it’s atmosphere will be owned by one to terraform it. But how do you slice ownership of air we all got for free?”

    I agree with your point that it’s pretty clear that mankind owns the atmopshere. We’d certainly take that position if aliens came and tried to alter it. But how to manage the commons? That’s the tough question – as it is for most commons. But there’s no principled position that insists that the commons be carved up, instead of being managed as a commons under agreed rules.

  3. Juan
    February 20th, 2008 at 03:16 | #3

    war is peace . . . carbon taxes are property rights.

  4. February 19th, 2008 at 01:50 | #4

    Juan, thanks for your visit. One doubts that this group can have much of an impact itself, though it would be very interesting to hear their thinking behind their decision to advocate carbon taxess, no?

  5. Juan
    February 16th, 2008 at 23:45 | #5

    Great example of how fake libertarians can destroy freedom in the name of ‘freedom’.

  6. TokyoTom
    February 16th, 2008 at 16:36 | #6

    Tom, thanks for the comment. There are plenty of externalities and since we need to balance the ability of the government ot effectively do anything (direct/indirect costs of government and rent-seeking) I certainly am not of the view that we should try to be looking for externalities in order to justify Pigouvian taxes.

    I agree with you about the externalities to wind and biofuels. We need to do a beter job protecting property rights in tropical forests and maybe create them in raptors. And we should remove subsidies for ethanol.

  7. Tom
    February 15th, 2008 at 14:36 | #7

    False assumption–if fossil ‘externalities’ are included via Pigouvian tax, it must include such externalities for renewables as well (although the price of endangered bald eagles killed by wind likely a tough calculation)—but be aware that will in all likelihood NOT change the energy resource mix much. It cannot be just ‘carbon tax’ but include every impact–and that cannot be accurately done.

  8. TokyoTom
    February 14th, 2008 at 07:21 | #8

    Jeff, the competence of the state is indeed a serious issue. So is rent-seeking. Discussions of policy should ignore neither.

    But I’m not sure what you’re suggesting as to the difference between real and fake markets in the context of climate change policy. Do you mean to advocate, instead of taxes or emissions permits, that the best way to address climate change would be to first privatize all roads globally and then for parties affected by climate change to band together to sue the roadway companies? And for the same parties to sue utility firms worldwide?

  9. Peterus
    February 13th, 2008 at 23:46 | #9

    This may be less harmful solution to non-existant problem. Not much more though. There’s no problem in 0,7 degree Celsius bump in decades… even if it would actually be due to our 0,28% contribution to global warming.

    This would create fake market of fake goods. Hopefully effectively averting fake problems.

    BTW If Mars was considered it’s obvious that it’s atmosphere will be owned by one to terraform it. But how do you slice ownership of air we all got for free?

  10. jtucker
    February 13th, 2008 at 17:44 | #10

    I just read it. Glaring omission in his argument: he provides no analysis of the the failure of the competence of the state to manage this problem if it is a problem. He also mixes up real and fake markets: private roads vs tolls on public roads, e.g.

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