Unfortunately, our local state Rep. Drew MacEwen seems to miss the obvious conclusion in his recent piece on going to learn about clean energy in Scandinavia. The first half was all about Denmark and Sweden’s impressive transition to renewable energy, and what a good thing that is.
But the second half was all about how we don’t need a carbon tax! Apparently, he didn’t learn, or just chose to skip, the fact that Sweden has the most effective carbon tax in the world. Polluters there pay $146 for every metric ton of CO2 they dump into the atmosphere. Denmark has a carbon tax too, just over $14 a ton.
Rep. MacEwen claims carbon taxes “do not make economic sense,” but in fact most economists think that putting a price on carbon is a far cheaper and more efficient way to reduce CO2 pollution than government efforts to regulate every industry. Carbon taxes make economic sense because they make market prices include the long-term health and environmental costs of using fossil fuels. The costs of dumping extra CO2 into the air become part of deciding whether to use fossil fuels or invest in green energy, instead of being hidden.
Accurate prices allow free markets to work properly, and Denmark’s GDP was $17 billion in 1970, when he says they started shifting to green energy; it was $308 billion last year. Sweden’s is now 13 times larger. Carbon taxes really helped create these changes he praises in Scandinavia.