If you impose a tax on pollution, whether it’s carbon emissions or crud dumped in rivers, and don’t return the money to the taxpayers some other way, they’re not going to like it.
These sorts of taxes demand rigorous accounting of revenues and an automatic system for distributing the money back, whether it’s through an income-tax rebate or a periodic payout to every citizen in the style of a royalty or something else. But if you treat green taxes only as cash cows, the backlash will kill them, and you.
In Canada, every tax-related argument from any Green Party I’ve ever seen has talked about “tax-shifting,” as in this policy synopsis from the Ontario Greens:
Every purchase of a toothbrush, a vegetable, an automobile or a house is an economic decision that influences climate change. Simple changes to our tax structure will make it easier for businesses and consumers to modify their lifestyles and purchasing habits.
We believe this can best be achieved by shifting taxes off climate change-neutral choices and onto climate change-inducing choices.We think Ontarians should pay for what they burn, not for what they earn. No new additional taxes are needed to address climate change.
Goofy some of them might be, but they’re not stupid.