Reducing U.S. carbon dioxide emissions: an assessment of different instruments

Dale W. Jorgenson, Peter J. Wilcoxen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


The possibility that carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel use might lead to global warming has become a leading environmental concern. Many scientific and environmental organizations have called for immediate action to limit carbon dioxide production. For the most part, however, public debate has focused on a single policy instrument: a carbon tax applied to fossil fuels in proportion to their carbon content. We present a detailed model of the U.S. economy and use it to compare carbon taxes with two other instruments that could achieve the same reduction in carbon dioxide emissions: a tax on the energy content of fossil fuels (a BTU tax) and an ad valorem tax on fuel use. We find that carbon taxes can achieve a given reduction with the least overall effect on the economy, but with a large effect on coal mining. Energy taxes are fairly similar to carbon taxes but have slightly less impact on coal mining and slightly greater overall cost. In contrast, ad valorem taxes fall much more lightly on coal mining but have a much greater effect on the economy as a whole.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)491-520
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Policy Modeling
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics


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