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Cover Introducing Political Philosophy

13. Environmental Taxes and Intergenerational Justice  

William Abel, Elizabeth Kahn, Tom Parr, and Andrew Walton

This chapter evaluates environmental taxes as part of a set of policies to address the threats that climate change poses. These taxes increase the price of activities that are environmentally harmful. In doing so, they discourage such behaviour and raise revenue that the state can use to redress its effects. The chapter embeds these considerations in an account of intergenerational justice, arguing that the current generation has a duty to provide future generations with prospects at least equal to its own. It also examines the objection that the proposed approach allows historical emitters off of the moral hook, showing that the state can adjust environmental taxes to take account of this. Finally, the chapter explores how to amend these taxes so that they are not regressive and that they do not present undue barriers to particularly valuable activities.