Monday, January 7, 2013

In Ireland a Carbon and Waste Tax Has Positive Effects – But Don’t Tell Conservatives

They Think Ireland’s Low Tax Environment is Great, and Would Be Sorely Disappointed to Learn the Truth About Stopping Pollution

Conservatives love to talk about Ireland because they claim its low corporate tax rates are what everyone should have.  Of course, if everyone did have the same corporate tax rates as Ireland then there would be no tax incentives to invest or divert funds to Ireland, so that wouldn’t work.  And Ireland’s size makes it largely irrelevant for most policy decision, it would be like trying to draw conclusions from economic policy in Rhode Island.

But one area where Ireland does serve as an example is its tax on carbon and pollution.  Despite what Conservatives say and believe, a carbon/pollution tax is working for Ireland’s benefit.

Over the last three years, with its economy in tatters,Ireland embraced a novel strategy to help reduce its staggering deficit: charging households and businesses for the environmental damage they cause.

Here’s how it works.

The government imposed taxes on most of the fossil fuels used by homes, offices, vehicles and farms, based on each fuel’s carbon dioxide emissions, a move that immediately drove up prices for oil, natural gas and kerosene. Household trash is weighed at the curb, and residents are billed for anything that is not being recycled.

And the benefits are both environmental and economic.

Environmentally and economically, the new taxes have delivered results. Long one of Europe’s highest per-capita producers of greenhouse gases, with levels nearing those of the United States, Ireland has seen its emissions drop more than 15 percent since 2008.

And yes there are some negative effects.  There will be negative impact when people stop polluting and clean up their own messes, rather than leave the mess for future generations to clean up.  But then, isn’t that the reason why Conservatives want to balance the budget, to not leave the problem for future generations?  No, not really, they just say those things, they don’t mean them.

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