The case for a carbon tax – getting past our hang-ups to effective climate policy by law professor Shi-Ling Hsu

September 30th, 2011 by Island Press

In this hyper-partisan era, you wouldn’t expect liberals and conservatives to agree about much of anything—certainly not taxes, definitely not taxes to stop climate change. But according to legal expert Shi-Ling Hsu, this controversial idea actually has surprising support on both sides of the aisle.

(click on book cover to go to Amazon UK)

Both New Times columnist Paul Krugman and über-libertarian Grover Norquist support higher gasoline taxes. Even Exxon-Mobile CEO Rex Tillerman is in favor of carbon taxes. And Hsu’s book, The Case for a Carbon Tax: Getting Past Our Hang-Ups to Effective Climate Policy, itself is garnering praise from both ends of the political spectrum.

Renowned NASA scientist and outspoken advocate of carbon regulation, James E. Hansen calls it “an objective, clear-sighted revelation.” Kevin Hassett of the American Enterprise Institute, a former advisor to both Republican Presidential candidate John McCain and President George W. Bush, says it’s “the most thoughtful and sweeping book on carbon taxation in existence.”

Shi-Ling Hsu’s argument and approach are straightforward. With ten arguments for a carbon tax, he explains the pros and cons of the major policy approaches that have been considered to cut carbon emissions: cap and trade; regulation, subsidies, and carbon taxes. He argues that when the evidence is weighed dispassionately, the choice of policy is clear.

But Hsu also acknowledges that the public is far from dispassionate. He explores why, despite its advantages, a carbon tax is so widely reviled.  The answers range from political manipulation by pollsters to quirks of human nature. But the result is the same—a rejection of the policy that just might prevent environmental catastrophe.

Using clear-eyed logic, examples of places where carbon taxes have worked, and how ideas can be implemented, Hsu makes a coherent argument in The Case for a Carbon Tax for how we can overcome our hang-ups and chose a rational approach to climate change.  Miraculously, he has already found adherents on both sides of the partisan divide.


Shi-Ling Hsu is Associate Professor at the University of British Columbia Faculty of Law. Previously, he was Associate Professor at the George Washington University Law School, Senior Attorney and Economist for the Environmental Law Institute in Washington D.C, and Deputy City Attorney for the City and County of San Francisco.

The Case for a Carbon Tax: Getting Past Our Hang-Ups to Effective Climate Policy by Shi-Ling Hsu is published by Island Press Hardcover / Paperback 248 pages.  In the USA price: $35.00 | ISBN: 978-1-59726-522-5  Publication Date: October 1, 2011

European Publication Date: November 2011

244 pages.

Paper: £21.00 978-1-59726-533-1

Cloth: £43.00 978-1-59726-531-7

Available direct from Island Press c/o Marston Book Services or any good bookseller



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