Carbon taxes in theory and reality
The other day, I mentioned that France's Constitutional Council rejected a proposed carbo tax for being too chock full of exemptions. The policy had been compromised so far down that it violated the "principle of tax equality," which in France, is enough to get your law disqualified.
I played this as an odd story showing the topsy-turvy world of French politics. But Dave Roberts has a more perceptive take. "One of the purported advantages of a carbon tax over cap-and-trade is that it would be simple," he says. But in France, that theory got tested, and under optimal conditions: France has a more majoritarian political system, a president who's gambled a lot more on the carbon tax than any American politician has done, and an electorate that's much more comfortable with taxation and much less skeptical of global warming. And the result was still a policy that exempted all manner of industries and polluters. So much so that the Constitutional Council actually threw it out.
The carbon tax's advocates are expected to revise the law and take another crack at passage. But making a real-world carbon tax more like an imaginary carbon tax is difficult. "It remains unclear how the bill could be modified to meet the demands of the council without fierce objections from French industry," the New York Times reports. I bet it does.
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