top of page
  • Writer's pictureBen Silvian

Negative Sample Case: Carbon Tax

Updated: Aug 10, 2022

Neg Case (682 words)

We Negate that The United States federal government should adopt a carbon tax.

Contention One is State Collapse

Donald Marron of the Urban Institute writes in 2015 that a carbon tax would decrease domestic demand for oil and drive down its global price.

This is devastating, Terry Karl of Stanford writes in 2016 that a fall in oil prices would threaten the stability of dozens of countries which rely on oil for up to 85 percent of export revenue. As a result of instability brought on by financial strain, Karl finds that these nations would face a strikingly high chance of state collapse.

Even worse, this instability will create a safe haven for terrorism, which threatens the lives of Americans. James Piazza of UNC finds in 2008 that unstable states are up to 15 times more likely to be the source of transnational terror than are stable states.

Contention Two is Energy Prices

Kevin Hassett of the American Enterprise Institute explains in 2009 that a carbon tax would raise costs for energy companies, who would respond by raising prices for consumers in order to maintain high profits. Consequently, Sergey Paltsev of MIT finds in 2008 that citizens will shoulder about 95% of the tax.

That’s why Brad Plumer of the Washington Post finds in 2013 that a US carbon tax would increase electricity prices for citizens by 16%.

There are four impacts.

First, harming the environment. Clemente of Forbes writes in 2014 that high energy prices reduce consumers’ ability to go green. This makes sense: people will only install solar panels and use green energy if they have enough money.

Second, job loss. Higher electricity prices raise costs for other businesses, who lay off workers to compensate. That’s why Olivier Deschenes of NBER finds in 2010 that every 4% increase in energy prices reduces employment by 0.6%.

Third, poverty. Low income families spend a larger percentage of their income on electricity; as such, Morris of Brookings finds in 2012 that a carbon tax would hit the poor 5 times harder than the rich, and Senator Murkowski writes in 2014 that every 10% increase in energy prices pushes 840,000 americans into poverty.

Fourth, death. High energy prices prevent the poor from heating their homes. Clemente continues that after the UK’s carbon tax, 24,000 more citizens died every year of hypothermia because they lacked the means to pay for heat.

Contention Three is A Race to the Bottom

A carbon tax would increase carbon usage in the developing world. This is for two reasons.

First, offshoring. The Institute of Energy Research reports in 2009 that the tax will increase costs of doing business in America and compel companies to move offshore.

Second, imports. Bruce Arnold of the CBO finds in 2013 that a carbon tax would raise domestic production costs, making us rely more on imports. Such an effect would encourage other countries to produce, and emit, more in order to take advantage of this growing market.

Thus, John Hassler of the IIES finds that a carbon tax will result in “perfect leakage” meaning every 1% reduction in US emissions will be met with a 1% increase in emissions overseas. In fact, Martin Hansen of Copenhagen Economics reports in 2011 that leakage rates exceeded 100% throughout Nordic countries after their carbon taxes, because emissions moved to developing countries with lower regulations.

As a result of leakage, A carbon tax gives the developing world an economic incentive to relax regulations on emissions in an effort to attract fleeing American businesses and take advantage of new American markets. That’s why Michael Vandenbergh of the RFF finds in 2009 that just 10% carbon leakage would be enough to turn the entire developing world against climate action.

But climate action in the developing world is imperative: Vandenbergh finds that developing countries will account for 80% of global emissions over the next few decades. Unfortunately, Banaji of The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate finds in 2014 that if developing countries don’t take action soon, they will become locked into high-carbon infrastructure, entrenching the use of fossil fuels, and reversing all progress toward stopping climate change.



bottom of page