In a centrally planned economy decisions on what to produce, how to produce and for whom are taken primarily by the government.
The term is usually associated with communist economies. However, since US President Franklin D. Roosevelt implemented a robust range of government policies in the 1930s to counter the effects of the Great Depression, using principles that would be popularized by UK economist John Maynard Keynes, Western governments (along with their central bank consorts) have also taken on very interventionist roles in economic affairs.
But not even Stalin or Roosevelt could come up with a rather exotic tool that can take central planning to a whole new level: carbon taxes.
The reason why it is so powerful is that virtually all market activities produce some type of greenhouse gas, meaning carbon and other equivalents that contribute to warming our planet. Here’s the emissions breakdown by sector in the US according to the Environmental Protection Agency (as of 2014):
Virtually all economic activities (as well as most daily personal affairs in any modern society) produce some type of emissions. So by putting a cost on carbon any of them, from the most mundane to the most complex, would be impacted. Entire industries could be impaired with the stroke of a pen. Powerful stuff indeed.
Furthermore, the tax base could be greatly expanded as a result, at a time when governments are desperate for new sources of revenue.
Climate change skeptics, pointing to alleged gaps in the theory of manmade climate change (where carbon emissions resulting from human activity are primarily responsible for the rise in global temperatures since the 19th century) and the heavily politicized nature of the process have long argued that having such a powerful interventionist tool is really the ultimate goal of the politicians pushing for it.
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