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The political leeway for carbon taxes is greater than commonly assumed. Political scientists at ETH have shown how carbon taxes could find acceptance in Germany and the U.S.. What matters most is the intended use of the tax revenues and that all industrialized nations implement the taxes.
Useful to fight climate change, but politically risky: carbon taxes are widely regarded as a double-edged sword. However, a study conducted by ETH political scientists has now challenged this idea. Depending on how carbon taxes are designed, the majority would indeed support them. In addition to the actual tax rate, there are two main factors affecting public acceptance: how governments use the revenues and whether other industrialized nations introduce similar taxes.
Conclusion - Researcher - Liam - Beiser-McGrath - ETH
This was the conclusion reached by the authors—senior researcher Liam Beiser-McGrath and ETH Professor of Political Science Thomas Bernauer—in an article recently published in Science Advances. They conducted an online experiment to study attitudes towards carbon taxes in a representative sample of about 3,000 people in both Germany and the U.S.. Participants evaluated a series of carbon tax proposals, which randomly differed based upon features of their design.
This set-up allowed the researchers to evaluate the influence of individual aspects of a carbon tax model on people's willingness to pay. In other words, they were able to determine how a carbon tax should be structured in order to achieve majority acceptance, and conversely which properties could cause it to fail.
Questions - Information - Use - Tax - Revenues
They focused on two questions in particular: How did information about the intended use of the tax revenues influence people's willingness to pay? And did respondents' attitudes change when they knew that other countries would also impose a carbon tax?
Focusing exclusively on the influence of the intended use of tax revenues, a clear picture emerges: survey participants were more open to paying the tax when they...
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