Assessing Carbon Emissions Control Strategies: A Carbon Tax or Gasoline Tax?

Research Report T903


William U. Chandler and Andrew K. Nicholls


This paper assesses the effectiveness, fairness, and economic implications of two proposed measures for reducing U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide from the combustion of fossil fuel: a gasoline tax and a carbon fuels tax. It concludes that both approaches would significantly reduce U.S. Carbon emissions by stimulating energy conservation. A carbon tax, however, could eliminate three times more carbon than a gasoline tax, assuming the taxes were set to generate approximately equal revenues. These estimates do not include growth in emissions due to future economic growth or the effect of lower energy prices resulting from depressed demand.