Carbon Tax-inator

Your carbon tax is



About the Carbon Tax-inator

The purpose of the carbon tax-inator is to calculate a surcharge on carbon-intensive activities,
which an individual can use as a disincentive to emit carbon. The activities selected here are typically the most carbon-intensive activities/consumption that an individual engages in.
The idea is to charge yourself the appropriate carbon tax when applicable. You can put that money aside to invest in carbon offsets or improvements in efficiency, equipment upgrades, etc.

The tax rate is the rate you want to charge yourself per ton of CO2.

The default rate is $220/ton of CO2, which is a recent estimate of the actual cost of emitting a ton of CO2 in terms of current and future harm.

Source: Moore and Diaz, 2015

The US Government uses a value of $37/ton to calculate the potential impact of policy decisions.

Every gallon of gasoline burned is responsible for about 26 pounds of CO2 emissions. This includes the full life cycle, from extraction, refinining, and delivery, all the way to burning the fuel to power a vehicle, run a lawnmower, or heat your home.

Source: Biomass Energy Centre

Pound for pound, lamb, beef, and cheese are the foods with the highest carbon footprints.

For more information, see Environmental Working Group’s Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change + Health.

The carbon footprint of electricity depends on the fuels used to generate it. States that burn mainly coal for electricity generation have much higher carbon intensities than states relying more on hydropower and renewables. The carbon tax-inator uses data on the carbon intensity of electricity production for each of the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia to give a more accurate picture of your carbon footprint. If you purchase renewable electricity, the carbon tax is waived!

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

When it is burned, the carbon emissions from natural gas (or “methane”) are lower than oil or coal, and can be lower than electricity depending upon your state’s energy mix.
However, methane is itself an extremely potent greenhouse gas. If it is allowed to escape into the atmosphere during extraction or through leaky pipes, it can cause much higher carbon emissions.

Data source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

For a single act, flying is far and away the average person’s most carbon-intensive activity. A round-trip flight from New York to Los Angeles creates about 1 ton of emissions per passenger!

Click here for a handy chart showing the greenest way to travel, from the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Getting There Greener report.


Click here for a mobile version of the Tax-inator