The Center on Global Energy Policy provides independent and data-driven research on carbon taxes to policymakers, business leaders, students and journalists. 

Journal Articles


A Near-Term to Net Zero Alternative to the Social Cost of Carbon for Setting Carbon Prices (August 2020)

In a new article in the journal Nature Climate Change, Noah Kaufman, Alexander R. Barron, Wojciech Krawczyk, Peter Marsters & Haewon McJeon introduce a new approach for pricing carbon -- Near-term to Net Zero.

A Federal US Carbon Tax: Major Design Decisions and Implications (December 2018)

In the journal Joule, Jason Bordoff and Noah Kaufman describe the major design decisions associated with a federal carbon tax and their implications on US energy markets, emissions, and the economy.


Expanding the Reach of a Carbon Tax: Emissions Impacts of Pricing Combined with Additional Climate Actions (October 2020)

While 10 carbon tax bills have been proposed in the 116th US Congress, carbon prices alone are not enough to reach net-zero emissions by midcentury. Additional policies are needed to complement an economy-wide carbon tax and further cut CO2 from the US energy system. This study aims to provide a better understanding of such policy combinations. It projects the energy CO2 emissions impacts of two carbon taxes and describes the barriers inhibiting emissions reductions beyond those achieved by the carbon taxes alone for each major sector: electricity, transportation, buildings, and industry. Finally, it explores the energy system changes needed to overcome those barriers and the policy interventions that could deliver those changes. 

Output-based Rebates: An Alternative to Border Carbon Adjustments for Preserving U.S. Competitiveness. (December 2020)

Two linked and frequently raised concerns about putting a price on carbon dioxide emissions in the United States are whether such a tax would unintentionally advantage foreign competitors and, as a result, lead to increased emissions outside American borders.  To avoid this outcome, carbon tax proposals commonly include a border carbon adjustment (BCA), which would impose the carbon tax on imported energy-intensive and trade-exposed products and provide a tax refund for exports of the same products. This commentary highlights an alternative way to ensure that US firms remain on a level playing field with foreign competitors: output-based rebates (OBRs). It reintroduces output-based rebates as an alternative to BCAs, analyzes US industries that could be compensated with OBRs, and estimates the costs of doing so.

An Assessment of the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (November 2019)

Growing public concern about the social, economic, and environmental impacts of climate change, along with pressure for lawmakers to introduce policy proposals that reduce emissions, have brought carbon taxes to the center of policy discussions on Capitol Hill. Thus far in 2019, seven different carbon tax legislative proposals have been introduced in Congress. The proposal with the most cosponsors, totaling 64 Democrats and 1 Republican as of the end of September 2019, is the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (EICDA), introduced in February 2019 by lead sponsor Ted Deutch (D-FL). Dr. Noah Kaufman, John Larsen, Peter Marsters, Hannah Kolus, and Shashank Mohan analyze the Act and assesses the potential impacts of EICDA on the US energy system, environment, and economy. 

The Risk of Fiscal Collapse in Coal-Reliant Communities (July 2019)

Climate policies will reduce demand for coal, exacerbating the pressure the coal industry already faces from decades of mechanization in the coal industry, low-cost natural gas as a competitor to coal, and generally weak domestic electricity demand growth. This paper examines the implications of a carbon-constrained future on coal-dependent local governments in the United States. It considers the outlook for US coal production over the next decade under such conditions and explores the risk this will pose for county finances. The paper also considers the responsibilities of jurisdictions to disclose these risks, particularly when they issue bonds, and the actions leaders can take to mitigate the risks. 

Interactions between a Federal Carbon Tax and Other Climate Policies (March 2019)

While a federal carbon tax would be a significant step toward slashing greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, policymakers should also examine whether other new policies are needed alongside a carbon tax and whether existing policies should be changed or eliminated. To provide policymakers with information to help make these decisions, this paper proposes a framework that policymakers can use to assess the compatibility between a federal carbon tax and other policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Using this framework, the paper categorizes existing and potential polices on a spectrum from "complementary" or "redundant to a federal carbon tax. 

This interactive tool describes the main findings from the paper on the compatibility of a federal carbon tax with other policies.

The Energy, Economic and Environmental Impacts of a Federal US Carbon Tax (July 2018)

This short, accessible report summarizes the results of the following three studies that analyze a common set of carbon tax policies: 1) Energy and Environmental Implications of a Carbon Tax in the United States, 2) Distributional Implications of a Carbon Tax, and 3) The Effects of Carbon Tax Policies on the US Economy and the Welfare of Households. This summary report also provides guidance for interpreting the studies’ findings in light of model limitations, similar studies, and other relevant factors.

Energy and Environmental Implications of a Carbon Tax in the United States (July 2018)

This project, conducted in collaboration with the Rhodium Group,  provides insights into the likely effects of carbon taxes on energy producers, consumers, and markets, as well as on U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases. The original analysis conducted by the Rhodium Group using the RHG-NEMS model examines various carbon tax scenarios. The findings shed light on the impacts of different carbon prices on emissions outcomes and the achievability of the U.S. commitments to the Paris Agreement, as well as impacts to fossil fuel and renewable energy production.

Distributional Implications of a Carbon Tax (July 2018)

This project, in collaboration with the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, analyzes the impacts of various potential carbon taxes on U.S. households of different income levels. The results come from a state-of-the-art microsimulation model, using the results from the Rhodium Group’s energy sector modeling as inputs. The findings will help policymakers understand how the economic outcomes of carbon tax policies differ across households.

The Effects of Carbon Tax Policies on the US Economy and the Welfare of Households (July 2018)

This project, in collaboration with The Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University, examines how various potential carbon taxes affect macroeconomic outcomes (GDP, investment, labor supply, etc.) as well as impacts across households of varying income levels. The results come from a computable general equilibrium (CGE) model designed to analyze both short-run and long-run macroeconomic outcomes, as well as intergenerational and intragenerational distributional effects, and uses the results from the Rhodium Group’s energy sector modeling as inputs.

Emissions, Energy, and Economic Implications of the Curbelo Carbon Tax Proposal (July 2018)

Along with scholars from the Rhodium Group and Rice University, CGEP research scholar Noah Kaufman analyzes carbon tax legislation proposed by Congressman Carlos Curbelo, the first federal carbon pricing proposal from a congressional Republican in nearly a decade. The analysis includes projected effects of the legislation on: greenhouse gas emissions; the production and prices in key energy markets; national macroeconomic outcomes, and; the welfare of low-income families.  

Carbon Tax Design Options (January 2018)

What is the value of a carbon tax, and what are the different design options policymakers should consider? This first project in the series, in collaboration with the Rhodium Group, addresses issues including: the level of the tax rates, where a tax could be applied, how broad it could be, revenue use alternatives, and how to address concerns of international competitiveness and emissions leakage.



This commentary describes the first bipartisan carbon pricing proposal in Congress in nearly a decade in comparison to other carbon tax proposals released in 2018 (1) by Congressional Democrats led by Senator Whitehouse; (2) by Congressional Republicans led by Congressman Curbelo; and (3) by the Climate Leadership Council authored by James Baker and George Shultz.

Alternatives to the Social Cost of Carbon in Taxes and Subsidies

This commentary evaluates five approaches for setting CO2 prices based on the benefits and costs of reducing CO2 emissions and compares them across various desired attributes.

The Use of Current Social Cost of Carbon Estimates in Taxes and Subsidies

Noah Kaufman examines the history and application of the social cost of carbon (SC-CO2) in the United States, focusing on the use of the SC-CO2 to set carbon tax and clean energy subsidy rates.

Can China’s CO2 Trading System Avoid the Pitfalls of Other Emissions Trading Schemes?

Noah Kaufman and Jonathan Elkind explore whether China’s national CO2 emissions trading system (ETS) is likely to drive significant emissions reductions. 

Putting a price on vehicle emissions is better policy than it seems

Noah Kaufman describes why the effects of a carbon tax on vehicle emissions may be more substantial than conventional wisdom suggests. Kaufman acknowledges that a carbon price by itself may not rapidly decarbonize the transportation sector, but he argues that it is an important component of a cost-effective strategy for addressing vehicle emissions. 

A Carbon Tax Under Real-World Constraints

CGEP Scholar Dr. Noah Kaufman examines four concerns that carbon tax supporters have raised with the design of Initiative 1631 in Washington state. For each, he highlights the consensus of economists on how a carbon tax should be designed (in theory) and compares those recommendations to the details of Initiative 1631.


Dear 2020 Democrats, If you want to slow climate change, carbon pricing is a necessity

Noah Kaufman | USA Today | September 5, 2019

Democratic voters are growing more focused on addressing climate change, but the leading presidential candidates are largely steering clear of a critical tool for cutting emissions: carbon pricing. 

Oil industry and climate activists agree on one solution: carbon tax

Noah Kaufman | The Hill | July 24, 2018

When it comes to action on climate change, few groups have less in common than the oil industry and climate activists. Writing in The Hill, CGEP Scholar Noah Kaufman argues that both groups, however, may find something to like in the same kind of climate policy: a carbon tax