Thomas Friedman advocates a carbon tax
Carbon Tax Center: "Thomas Friedman: His has been the most influential and persistent journalistic voice for breaking U.S. oil dependence by taxing gasoline. We count a dozen columns on this score in 2006 alone, including Who’s Afraid of a Gas Tax? ("Americans not only know that our oil addiction is really bad for us, but they would be willing to accept a gasoline tax if some leader would just frame the stakes for the country the right way," March 1, 2006). Friedman has now broadened his call to "a gasoline or carbon tax": And The Color of the Year Is … ("You have to make sure that green energy sources … can be delivered as cheaply as oil, gas and dirty coal. That will require a gasoline or carbon tax to keep the price of fossil fuels up so investors in green-tech will not get undercut while they drive innovation forward and prices down," Dec. 22, 2006). Friedman has kept the pressure on in 2007, with The First Energy President ("It means asking Americans to do some hard things [including] accepting a gasoline or carbon tax," Jan. 5), and (A Warning From the Garden, Jan. 19)":
- Friedman: "I don’t care whether it is a federal gasoline tax, carbon tax, B.T.U. tax or cap-and-trade system, power utilities, factories and car owners have to be required to pay the real and full cost to society of the carbon they put into the atmosphere. And higher costs for fossil fuels make more costly clean alternatives more competitive… And prices matter. They drive more and cleaner energy choices. So when the president unveils his energy proposals, if they don’t call for higher efficiency standards and higher prices for fossil fuels — take your socks off yourself. It’s going to get hot around here."
- In a recent 9,000-word cover story in the Times Sunday Magazine, Friedman stated his preference for a carbon tax over a cap-and-trade system:
- Friedman: "The market alone won’t work. Government’s job is to set high standards, let the market reach them and then raise the standards more. That’s how you get scale innovation at the China price. Government can do this by imposing steadily rising efficiency standards for buildings and appliances and by stipulating that utilities generate a certain amount of electricity from renewables — like wind or solar. Or it can impose steadily rising mileage standards for cars or a steadily tightening cap-and-trade system for the amount of CO2 any factory or power plant can emit. Or it can offer loan guarantees and fast-track licensing for anyone who wants to build a nuclear plant. Or — my preference and the simplest option — it can impose a carbon tax that will stimulate the market to move away from fuels that emit high levels of CO2 and invest in those that don’t. Ideally, it will do all of these things. But whichever options we choose, they will only work if they are transparent, simple and long-term — with zero fudging allowed and with regulatory oversight and stiff financial penalties for violators." - The Power of Green, April 15, 2007
- "Friedman reiterated his desire for a carbon tax even more recently, while criticizing the carbon offsets fad: [W]hen you suggest a carbon tax or a higher gasoline tax — initiatives that would redirect resources and change habits at the scale actually needed to impact global warming — what is the first thing you hear in Congress? "Impossible — you can’t use the T-word." A revolution without sacrifice where everyone is a winner? There’s no such thing. Live Bad, Go Green, July 8, 2007." - Carbon Tax Center