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Keywords:

  • climate change;
  • domestic and global inequality;
  • geoism;
  • Rawls

The need to use green taxes to protect the environment is urgent, particularly because of climate change, and can be justified via sound deontological and consequence-based arguments. One very influential criticism of such taxes, however, claims that they disproportionately burden relatively poor individuals who tend to contribute to environmental problems far less than wealthier persons. Critics can also object that because of the link between economic inequality and environmental destruction it is preferable to adopt environmental measures that impede rather than accelerate the growth of inequality. Defusing these criticisms, the article argues that various types of green fiscal reform can both avoid disproportionally burdening those who pollute least and reduce the economic inequalities that income taxes leave behind, and slow down the collectively self-defeating consumption arms race that currently besets so many affluent societies. Global progressive environmental taxation is also a possibility, and even easier to justify.