Azara Blog: San Francisco tries to introduce its own carbon tax

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Date published: 2008/05/22

The BBC says:

New rules have been passed in the San Francisco Bay Area that will require businesses to pay fees for the amount of carbon dioxide they emit.

The rules, due to come into effect on 1 July, could cost big emitters more than $50,000 (£25,000) a year, but most firms will pay less than $1 (50p).

Backers say the move sets an important precedent for the rest of the US.

But opponents say it may interfere with plans to introduce much tougher emissions targets across California.

There are a couple of problems. First, how are they measuring emissions? Second, unless the sums are trivial relative to a given firm's turnover, there is every incentive to move outside the jurisdiction, which is rather small geographically speaking. This is presumably why "most firms will pay less than $1", and indeed if that is the case, then the administrative cost of this new tax (whoops, "fee") would swamp the actual revenue for "most firms". This is gesture politics.

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