We investigate the current use of public revenues which are generated through both carbon taxes and cap-and-trade systems. More than $28.3 billion in government “carbon revenues” are currently collected each year in 40 countries and another 16 states or provinces around the world. Of those revenues, 27% ($7.8 billion) are used to subsidize “green” spending in energy efficiency or renewable energy; 26% ($7.4 billion) go toward state general funds; and 36% ($10.1 billion) are returned to corporate or individual taxpayers through paired tax cuts or direct rebates. Cap-and-trade systems ($6.57 billion in total public revenue) earmark a larger share of revenues for “green” spending (70%), while carbon tax systems ($21.7 billion) more commonly refund revenues or otherwise direct them towards government general funds (72% of revenues). Drawing from an empirical dataset, we also identify various trends in systems’ use of “carbon revenues” in terms of the total revenues collected annually per capita in each jurisdiction and offer commensurate qualitative observations on carbon policy design choices.
Energy policy design; Carbon tax; Cap-and-trade; Public revenue; Fiscal policy; Energy politics