Carbon Taxes by Any Other Name – UROP Spring Symposium 2021

Carbon Taxes by Any Other Name

Elizabeth Peppercorn


Pronouns: She, Her, Hers

Research Mentor(s): James Hines Jr, Richard A. Musgrave Collegiate Professor
Research Mentor School/College/Department: Economics, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
Presentation Date: Thursday, April 22, 2021
Session: Session 6 (4pm-4:50pm)
Breakout Room: Room 8
Presenter: 4

Event Link


Intro and problem statement: Our research has focused on the impact of carbon taxes on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Current international rankings and information is not clearly calculated and has left out a number of taxes that do have an impact on greenhouse gas emissions, although the taxes are not explicitly described as carbon taxes. The goal of this project is to create a broader definition and model of carbon taxes so that we can re-rank countries and determine which strategies are best at reducing global emissions. Methods: Lizzy has spent the majority of her research attempting to determine how the OECD and World Bank have calculated their international tax rankings and working towards developing new rankings based on 2016 tax revenue. Zach uses OECD databases to generate spreadsheets comparing different countries’ government tax collection, spending, and greenhouse gas emissions by industry and by year. These numbers are used to calculate how carbon intensive governments themselves are, and which industries are most carbon-intensive. After calculating the relative size and impact of each industry within each country, and understanding each country’s true tax ranking, we will be able to generate a more accurate representation of which carbon tax systems are truly most effective at mitigating emissions. Finally, we will analyze why we believe the best systems are better. Results: The country rankings on carbon taxes by the OECD and World Bank seem to be incomplete as they use self reported information and do not accurately include all taxes that impact carbon emissions. So far, we have also found that governments in general spend money in a much less carbon-intensive manner than the private sector. This suggests that, to some extent, perhaps every tax that is directed towards government spending should be considered a “carbon tax.” The final results will be rankings, and those are still to be determined. Conclusions: By using government revenue from environmental taxes that implicitly and explicitly lower carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions, we can form a more accurate international ranking. This improved international ranking will hopefully provide policymakers and other individuals in the United States and all around the world with new ideas for how to reduce their own country’s emissions.

Authors: Elizabeth Peppercorn
Research Method: Library/Archival/Internet Research

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