Climate Initiatives Reviewed

Medford, MA and Washington, DC (May 2007)- Say you are a European musician who is on tour in the US, or a researcher from Boston who needs to attend a conference on the West coast, or you just would like to visit your grandmother who lives back in India. With airtravel still being cheap, you will probably not think much and just book a flight to that the destination. Some of us fly so frequently, we can even afford to upgrade to business class at no extra cost. With Al Gore’s movie ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ and the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, many of us have become more sensitized to the serous threats of climate change. If you travel frequently, air travel, unfortunately contributes a disproportionate amount of greenhouse gases to your personal climate change footprint. The Tufts Climate Initiative and the Brookings Institution review several carbon curbing solutions.

The Brookings Institution and the World Resources Institute have reviewed solutions including: eliminating tax breaks that have adverse effects on the environment, trading payroll taxes for a green tax, and how businesses are making the case for energy efficiency.
Tax expenditures are provisions in the U.S. federal tax code that provide special tax benefits for selected economic activities or taxpayers. A number of tax expenditures add to greenhouse gas emissions by encouraging production and consumption of fossil fuels. This policy brief examines four tax expenditures, each with an annual revenue loss of over $1 billion, that increase consumption of fossil fuels.
A carbon tax is another way to limit emissions. This policy brief describes how a carbon tax could be implemented and presents an analysis of a Green Employment Tax Swap (GETS). Under this proposal, a national tax on carbon emissions is paired with a reduction in the payroll tax.
Firms are switching to renewable energy to obtain one or more of the following business benefits: lower or stabilized energy costs, reduced emissions, or stronger stakeholder relationships.
Finally, the Tufts Climate Initiative has evaluated 13 voluntary offset companies, and produced some guidelines that will help you choose the right company.
Related Resources:
Eliminating Tax Expenditures and the Environment
Green Employment Tax Swap: Using a Carbon Tax to Finance Payroll Tax Relief
The Business Case for Corporate Use of Renewable Energy in Europe
Tufts University Guide to Carbon Offsets