Nordhaus’s Carbon Tax: An Excuse to Do Nothing?

Yale economist William Nordhaus is an influential voice in the US climate policy debate. Although he writes that global warming is a serious problem, the whole tenor of his analysis is to urge caution and delay. His carbon tax proposal contravenes globally agreed principles and plays into the hands of those opposed to urgent action on warming. To suggest that a carbon tax system would obviate the need for “highly politicized and uncertain negotiations” and that, by contrast, “a carbon-tax model provides a friendly way for countries to join a climate treaty” indicates that Nordhaus’ carbon tax sits comfortably in a text book but has little relevance to the real world of climate policy.


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