• Ben Silvian

Affirmative Sample Case: Carbon Tax

Updated: Aug 10

Aff Case (682 words)

We affirm that the United States federal government should adopt a carbon tax.

And we observe that the status quo is unsustainable. Michael Greenstone of UChicago finds last week that there has been a worrisome boom in fossil fuel innovation. Without a carbon tax, he writes, fossil fuel prices will keep falling, and fossil fuel use will become locked in.

Contention 1 is a Political Revolution.

Implementing a carbon tax leads to the creation of more pro-climate policy in two ways.

First, locally. Martin Janicke of the University of Berlin finds in 2014 that, in Europe, national carbon regulations spurred domestic support for public action, and made people rally behind the greenhouse gas-reduction cause, incentivizing 63% of local communities in Europe to reduce emissions by 20%.

Second, globally. Gilbert Metcalf of Brookings writes in 2007 that developing countries will only seriously control greenhouse gases if the US shows leadership and gets the ball rolling. It’s no coincidence that according to Eurostat in 2003, after Finland implemented a carbon tax in 1990, the rest of Scandinavia joined the party within the next few years.

Contention 2 is an Industrial Revolution

A carbon tax elicits a shift to green energy sources in 2 different ways.

First, the expansion of the Green Technology Market. Chase Gorland of Columbia explains in 2015 that a carbon tax makes renewable energy more competitive with fossil fuel technologies, incentivizing companies to make the switch. Sigurd Schmidt of the University of Copenhagen finds in 2010 that every 1 percent increase in carbon prices due to taxes increases research and development of green technology by 2.5%.

Second, the contraction of the Fossil Fuel Market. Don Fullerton of the University of Illinois finds in 2011 that firms will divert capital previously invested in fossil fuel based industries into green tech innovation in order to preserve long term profitability. As a result, Stephie Fried of UC San Diego finds in 2015 that a carbon tax would increase green tech innovation by 50% and reduce fossil fuel based development by 60%.

There are 3 impacts.

First, Economic Growth. A 2011 Analysis by Google finds that energy innovation would grow the US economy by 155 billion dollars per year, and create 1.1 million jobs because of increased green tech development.

Second, Cheaper Energy. Google furthers that innovation in Green Tech would decrease costs of energy production in long term, saving households over 940 dollars per year in energy costs between 2030 and 2050.

Third, a solution to climate change. Reyer Gerlagh of Tilburg University finds that a carbon tax will make us switch to green technology 60 years earlier than we would otherwise. This is crucial, as Matthew Stepp of the CCEI writes in 2014 that the best way to prevent global warming in the long term is to stimulate innovation in green technology.

Contention 3 is an Environmental Revolution.

A carbon tax would significantly reduce US power plant emissions in two ways.

The First is a pivot to green tech. Google ultimately finds that a pivot to green technology could reduce US emissions by 55% in the medium term.

Second, increased efficiency. A carbon tax would incentivize energy producers to reduce CO2 emissions even if a switch to green technology does not occur. Keith Burnard of the International Energy Association finds in 2014 that a carbon tax would compel energy companies to improve the efficiency of their machinery in an effort to maximize profitability.

As a result, The Energy Information Administration reports in 2014 that a US carbon tax would decrease power plant emissions by 80% by 2040.

There are two impacts.

First, Saving Money. Jerry Taylor of the Niskanen Center finds in 2015 that reducing local emissions helps the economy because emissions damage infrastructure and raise health costs. He concludes that every 30 dollars in carbon tax would produce economic benefits worth 37 dollars.

Second, Saving American lives. Conrad Schneider of CSU finds in 2000 that such a reduction in emissions in the energy sector would save 18,000 American lives per year from decreased air pollution and particulate matter.