Esty’s Reflections on “A Conservative Case for Climate Action”
Dan C. Esty
By: Professor Dan Esty
Harvard economists Marty Feldstein and Greg Mankiw along with policy entrepreneur Ted Halstead published an op-ed in the New York Times on February 8 that could signal an important shift in the debate over action on climate change. Their commentary, “A Conservative Case for Climate Action” makes the case for shifting the focus of climate change policy away from the “grab bag of regulations” put forward by President Obama to a “gradually increasing tax on carbon dioxide emissions.” They note that such a tax would offer a “powerful signal” to businesses and consumers alike about the need to conserve energy and to support the transition to a clean energy future. And they seek (quite smartly, I believe) to build political support for the tax by rebating all of its proceeds to the American people. At their $40/ton starting level for the tax, these rebates would amount to about $2,000 for a family of four.