US economists urge Obama to push for global carbon tax

President Barack Obama should press for a global carbon tax, a Nobel Prize-winning Harvard economist has told ELN. Professor Eric S. Maskin from the Department of Economics at Harvard University […]

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By Vicky Ellis

President Barack Obama should press for a global carbon tax, a Nobel Prize-winning Harvard economist has told ELN.

Professor Eric S. Maskin from the Department of Economics at Harvard University suggested America should even adopt a carbon tax, like Europe has, to “set a good example” to the rest of the world.

The comments come as Professor Maskin and 25 other American economists yesterday wrote to President Obama urging him to support the EU’s decision to include the aviation industry in its low carbon scheme.

The signatories include five nobel prize winners, from universities such as Harvard, Stanford and Columbia.

The letter says: “Addressing emissions in this sector by negotiating a global pricing system through the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) would send an important signal that carbon pricing is an effective way to correct a major market failure-the growing concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.”

Professor Maskin told ELN in an email: “Either pushing for a cap-and-trade scheme or a straight carbon tax in the US would be a welcome response from the president. It would be even better if he pushed for a global scheme.”

The leading economist denied the EU’s scheme was pointless and suggested if America picked up its own emissions policy, others would follow suit.

He said: “I do not agree that without a global policy, the EU’s scheme is pointless – if the US joined the scheme, then a significant fraction of world emissions would be covered. More importantly, the US would be setting a good example for the rest of the world (notably, China). And so ultimately getting the global policy would become more likely.”

Some American and Canadian airlines have kicked up a fuss over the EU ETS, challenging their legality but last December EU courts ruled in favour of the emissions policy.