Economists call for carbon taxes

Call for taxes and global emissions trading systems

More than 2,000 US economists have signed a statement backing carbon taxes and international emissions trading as the "most efficient" way to tackle global warming. European industry groups have given it a mixed reaction.

Initiated by five leading economists and endorsed by six Nobel Laureates, the statement says that "global climate change carries with it significant environmental, economic, social and geopolitical risks and that preventative steps are justified". It advises that "for the United States in particular, sound economic analysis shows that there are policy options that would slow climate change without harming American living standards".

The signatories throw their weight behind market-based policies as the most efficient way to implement climate policies. They want the US and other governments to adopt carbon taxes and international emission trading schemes to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. They claim that the "revenues generated from such policies can effectively be used to reduce the deficit or to lower existing taxes."

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) in Geneva described the statement as "very important". Head of the climate change unit, Jan-Olaf Willums told ENDS Daily that it agrees closely with proposals the council intends to publish shortly. The WBCSD paper calls for a package of market-based instruments and lends support to the concept of global emissions trading.

However, the London-based World Energy Council, gave the initiative a cool reception. Deputy Secretary General Michael Jefferson told ENDS it should be seen in the context of recent proposals by the US government for a sophisticated global emissions trading system. He said this threatens to complicate and prolong the current negotiations for a legally binding instrument to control greenhouse gas emissions under the UN Climate Change Convention. He suggested it could take 15-20 years to set up the infrastructure for a global trading system.

Follow Up:
Redefining Progress, e-mail:; World Business Council for Sustainable Development; World Energy Council, tel: +44 171 930 3966. References: Economists' Statement on Climate Change from Redefining Progress.

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