Carbon taxes

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A carbon tax is a tax levied on the carbon content of goods and services, very commonly in the transport and energy sectors. Carbon taxes are intended to reduce CO2 emissions by increasing prices, and production costs, thereby decreasing demand for such goods and services.[1]

Some socialists and communists advocate for a carbon tax, but only as a complement to climate-fighting action, and not the main force against climate change - and advocating for a very big tax, which would a burden to poor folk but to have an equal climate dividend for everyone.[2]


While the taxes may reduce emissions, most reductions are not statistically significant, with the exception of Finland, likely because it has relatively fewer industries exempted from the tax.[3] Tax rates ranges can be radically different, from less than $1 per ton of carbon dioxide in Poland and the Ukraine, to as much as $139 per ton in Sweden (As of 2018.)[4]


In British Columbia, Canada, carbon taxes appear to not have been wholly negative for the people of the province, as in government figures, provincial real GDP grew more than 17%, while net emissions declined by 4.7%, between 2007 and 2015.[5] A self-described farm boy asked prime minister Justin Trudeau "Where are we really going with this carbon tax thing? What's really the point?" He said he has many customers "extremely concerned about having that come to our province" and suggested the government could prioritize energy efficiency and home retrofits through credits rather than introducing more taxes.[6]


Criticism of carbon taxes are very common, even from pro-carbon tax people.

A carbon tax would hit those on low income having to heat their houses in winter more than anyone else. Wealthy people have the resources to invest in more insulation or solar panels on their houses… A high carbon tax immediately hits these [poor] people…

— Paul Cockshott[7]

French Economist Thomas Piketty did suggest a way to make carbon taxes a progressive tax by levying a higher tax on individuals who have higher levels of emissions than average, and one may offer an exemption to households which emit less than the average. Piketty also suggested that the tax can be for $100 per ton above average$, 500 a ton on emissions 2.3 the average, etc.[8] Carbon taxes could potentially exacerbate fuel poverty, an economic problem wherein a household's fuel costs are more than 10% of the household's adjusted net income and the household's remaining income is not enough to maintain an acceptable standard of living.[9] Too, a carbon tax is said to be a very soft sort of solution to the climate crisis - “Carbon taxes are an industry-friendly approach to climate catastrophe. They can't deliver climate justice.” - and that only radical change can truly bring a just and sustainable land.[10]


  1. Carbon taxes. (n.d.) Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014. (1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014). Retrieved March 15, 2021 from
  2. Fremstad, A., & Paul, M. (2018, September 19). Why Socialists should Back a Carbon Tax. Jacobin. Retrieved January 26, 2021, from
  3. Boqiang, L., & Xuehui, L. (2011, September). The effect of carbon tax on per capita CO2 emissions. Energy Policy, Vol. 39(9), 5137-5146.
  4. Metcalf, G. (2019). Carbon Taxes: What Can We Learn From International Experience? Econofact.
  5. Tasker, J. P. (2019, April 1). What you need to know: Federal carbon tax takes effect in Ont., Manitoba, Sask. and N.B. today. CBC News. Retrieved January 6, 2021, from
  6. Tasker, J. P. (2018, September 12). Trudeau defends 'price on pollution' in anti-carbon-tax heartland. CBC News. Retrieved January 6, 2021, from
  7. Cockshott, P. (2019, May 6). No to carbon taxes! Paul Cockshott's Blog. Retrieved January 26, 2021, from
  8. Piketty, T. (2020). Capital and Ideology (A. Goldhammer, Trans.). Harvard University Press.
  9. Fuel Poverty Overview. (n.d.). Energy Action Scotland. Retrieved January 26, 2021, from
  10. Edwards, S. (2018, October 10). No, Carbon Taxes Aren't Socialist. Jacobin. Retrieved January 26, 2021, from