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The Center on Global Energy Policy (CGEP) at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs launched a Carbon Tax Research Initiative in 2018 with the goal of enabling the design and thoughtful consideration of federal carbon tax policy in the United States. The initiative is a collaboration among scholars at CGEP, the broader Columbia University faculty, and independent external experts. This paper is a collaboration between CGEP and Rhodium Group, an independent research provider.
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). This study assesses the potential impacts of EICDA on the US energy system, environment, and economy.
EICDA establishes a fee on each ton of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It covers over 80 percent of gross national emissions. The fee starts at $15 per metric ton and increases by $10 or $15 each year, depending on future emissions levels. Revenue raised by the carbon fee is used for “carbon dividends,” a rebate to every eligible US citizen or lawful resident. The bill also includes measures to protect US competitiveness and to reduce the risk that companies will relocate their operations to a different country with laxer climate laws. Through the carbon fee and additional regulations if necessary, EICDA targets 90 percent emissions reductions by 2050 compared to 2016 levels.
This study is part of a joint effort by Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy (CGEP) and Rhodium Group to help policymakers, journalists, and other stakeholders understand the important decisions associated with the design of carbon tax policies and the implications of these decisions. This analysis uses a version of the National Energy Modeling System maintained by the Rhodium Group (RHG-NEMS) to quantify the energy and environmental implications of EICDA, focusing on outcomes through 2030. Supplemental analyses provide insights on how EICDA would affect households, the economy, and government budgets.
The following are key results:
Rising debt levels and the ravages wrought by climate change present acute threats to achieving sustainable development goals in emerging market and developing economies.
As the world races to transition to cleaner energy sources, there exists a substantial gap between the financing required for this transition and the actual investments being made.
CGEP convened a roundtable to gain a better understanding of the complex intersections between sovereign debt and climatic upheaval.