Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Gore says tax pollution, not payrolls

Gore says tax pollution, not payrolls
By Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore on Monday suggested taxing carbon dioxide emissions instead of employees' pay in a bid to stem global warming.

"Penalizing pollution instead of penalizing employment will work to reduce that pollution," Gore said in a speech at New York University School of Law.

The pollution tax would replace all payroll taxes, including those for Social Security and unemployment compensation, Gore said. He said the overall level of taxation, would remain the same.

"Instead of discouraging businesses from hiring more employees it would discourage business from producing more pollution," Gore said.

Gore, a longtime environmentalist, also proposed that the United States re-join any successor to the U.N. Kyoto Protocol for curbing global warming beyond 2012.

Scientists believe global warming is caused by the trapping of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, in Earth's atmosphere. The consequences of this climate change include rising seas, stronger storms and intense heat waves.

Under the Kyoto global warming treaty, 35 industrialized nations -- but not the United States -- have agreed to cut carbon dioxide emissions to below 1990 levels.

President George W. Bush withdrew from the Kyoto pact in 2001, saying its caps on greenhouse gases would cost jobs.

"The absence of the United States from the treaty means that 25 percent of the world economy is now missing. It is like filling a bucket with a large hole in the bottom," Gore said.

Gore's proposals may be too radical to gain much support and are likely to be opposed by some business interests.

Many power companies are watching the U.S. government's every step on global warming. Any future national plan in the United States, the world's top emitter of greenhouse gases, to regulate such gases could force many companies to shut down coal-fired generation or add expensive carbon-capturing devices to their equipment.