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Carbon tax 3

A carbon tax is an environmental tax on emissions of carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is a heat-trapping "greenhouse" gas. The purpose of a carbon tax is to protect the environment by reducing emissions of carbon dioxide, helping to mitigate climate change. Some environmental taxes include other greenhouse gases; the global warming potential is an internationally accepted scale of equivalence for other greenhouse gases in units of tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.


Carbon atoms are present in every fossil fuel (coal, petroleum, and natural gas) and are released as CO2 when they are burnt. In contrast, non-combustion energy sources—wind, sunlight, hydropower, and nuclear—do not convert hydrocarbons to carbon dioxide. A carbon tax can be implemented by taxing the burning of fossil fuels—coal, petroleum products such as gasoline and aviation fuel, and natural gas—in proportion to their carbon content. If carbon dioxide emissions are not released into the atmosphere on combustion of fossil fuels, e.g., carbon capture and storage, then a carbon tax will not apply. Accordingly, a carbon tax increases the competitiveness of low-carbon technologies, such as renewables, compared to the traditional burning of fossil fuels.

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Taken on September 30, 2009