We need to change how we power just about everything we do, and quickly. Waiting for the market to shift on motor vehicles, whose years of productive lives extend into the double digits, will not effect change fast enough.
The Los Angeles Times editorial board endorsed a carbon tax 14 years ago, recognizing that “the proposed fixes for climate change are as numerous as its causes. Most only tinker at the edges of the problem. … To produce the cuts in greenhouse gases needed to slow or stop global warming, the world will have to phase out the fossil fuels on which it relies for most of its power supply and transportation.”
That conclusion has only become more concrete in the ensuing years.
So by all means let’s have a carbon tax. And by all means let’s do a lot more. Some auto companies are moving in the right direction by changing most or all of their production to electric vehicles. The federal government and states must do more to help build the power and charging infrastructure, and a carbon tax could help finance that transition.
And yes, a carbon tax will hit consumers. Some proposals call for carbon tax rebates, though that would make sense only if the rebates went to people based on financial need. But how much should the tax be? To some it ought to reflect the social costs of carbon emissions. Another approach is to set the carbon tax at a level to best drive the world to net-zero emissions by a certain date.