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San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is looking to join the ranks of local leaders who are working to implement a carbon tax. At the Cleantech Forum in downtown San Francisco Tuesday morning, Newsom said he hopes to get authorization by the end of the year for […]

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is looking to join the ranks of local leaders who are working to implement a carbon tax. At the Cleantech Forum in downtown San Francisco Tuesday morning, Newsom said he hopes to get authorization by the end of the year for a plan that would tax businesses’ carbon emissions. He also said his staff are working on a congestion pricing strategy (adding a toll for driving in the city center) that would rival London’s.

Newsom wants to replace the city’s payroll tax on businesses with a carbon tax aimed at encouraging companies to cut down on energy consumption and reducing their carbon emissions. Newsom says the decrease of the payroll tax would render the carbon tax “revenue neutral,” though he didn’t give many financial details of the plan. He also didn’t give any details of a congestion pricing plan. Wishful thinking?

With Northern California bringing in a third of global funding for cleantech, it’s about time San Francisco got aggressive on local carbon legislation. But after reading about the missteps of early implementations of local carbon taxes, we’re hoping Gavin has some bright minds on his staff ready to work out the kinks.

Carole Taylor, the finance minister for the Canadian province of British Columbia, just up the coast, recently unveiled a carbon tax of C$10 ($10.18) per ton of greenhouse gas that is scheduled to go into effect in July. But as Craig pointed out, this does not apply to the emissions from industrial farms, landfills, and oil and gas producers, which make up a third of the province’s emissions; the tax will be applied to driving and heating costs instead.

Meanwhile the mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, is pushing a “congestion charge” that would see owners of polluting cars pay £25 ($50) a day to drive in London. The proposal has already earned him a “judicial review process” leveled by Porsche, which alleges it is an “unjust 3000 percent congestion charge increase.”

Can Newsom, who is always eager to push the envelope with progressive — and aggressive — initiatives, do better than his peers? Well, he does have to answer to the Valley contingent and the city’s growing cleantech industry base, so he’ll likely avoid anything deemed too anti-business. But carbon taxes are so unpalatable to many voters, it could be tough to rally support for that ballot measure, which Newsom hopes to submit for the November elections.

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  1. Roundup: The growing internet ad market, San Francisco’s carbon tax, Google Maps and more » VentureBeat Tuesday, February 26, 2008

    [...] San Francisco, home of the carbon tax? — Mayor Gavin Newsom said he’d like to set up a plan to tax the carbon emissions of businesses in San Francisco this morning, during an early morning keynote at the Cleantech Forum. Confusingly, this appears to be a ballot issue for the city, separate from an emissions tax already being considered for the entire Bay Area. Newsom’s plan also involves congestion fees for inner-city driving, a measure typically only considered by much larger cities like London and New York. For a rundown of some possible pitfalls, Earth2Tech has a good brief. [...]

  2. Carbon Tax Center » Does San Francisco Want a Carbon Tax Wednesday, February 27, 2008

    [...] by Daniel Rosenblum Does San Francisco Want a Carbon Tax (earth2tech) Filed under [...]

  3. SF’s Jolly Green Mayor Wants Wave, Solar, Plug-In Power « Earth2Tech Wednesday, March 19, 2008

    [...] also spoke passionately about his proposed carbon tax, which could be the first of its kind in the U.S. Aiming to tax pollution, the mayor proposes to [...]

  4. Green energy is definitely the best solution in most cases. Technology like solar energy, wind power, fuel cells, zaps electric vehicles, EV hybrids, etc have come so far recently. Green energy even costs way less than oil and gas in many cases.

  5. Bay Area Leads with Nation’s First Carbon Tax « Earth2Tech Thursday, May 22, 2008

    [...] Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom has long been talking about reorienting his city’s tax laws to tax carbon emissions while simultaneously rolling [...]

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