Sixty-nine percent of respondents to the Global Network survey consider a global carbon tax the most effective tool to influence business decision-making on climate risk, though only 19% said they “strongly agree.” When combined with the other survey results, the numbers suggest that regulation is not the complete picture when it comes to climate change mitigation as it affects global business. As David Bach says, faculty were not as “bullish” on the question of a carbon tax as he expected.
“I think that a lot of economists think that a carbon tax is an elegant, simple solution that can help governments and businesses plan better,” Bach says. “In the Global Network there seems to be a plurality of support for it, but it wasn’t a slam dunk, and that surprised me a little bit.”
To some extent, Bach says, what is holding business schools back on incorporating climate change into core curricula is “the debate in the U.S., which is so political about this. In the rest of the world, the discussion is about how to best achieve this and who should pay the cost and what are the most effective tools. And in the U.S. we continue to be stuck in the debate about ‘should we take this on at all?’ But the business community is moving forward, and that is what is encouraging in the U.S.”
Experts are encouraged about some aspects of the issue, among them that a worldwide carbon tax is indeed achievable, with most respondents to the Global Network survey estimating such a tax is likely by 2030. Close to zero respondents think that a carbon tax will never happen.
“A carbon tax would be the best approach,” Yale Dean Ted Snyder says, “but won’t be implemented on a global basis. A more immediate issue is whether China, the United States, and others will ‘leave their country’s coal in the ground.’”
Adds José Miguel Sánchez, dean of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile School of Business in Chile: “A carbon tax is one of the instruments that can be used, but other instruments such as tradable permits should be analyzed in courses. Also command-and-control instruments, with their advantages and disadvantages.”
Accentuating the positive once again, a majority of Global Network faculty believe a carbon-neutral economy is achievable by 2050. Close to zero respondents think that a carbon-neutral economy will never happen.
“Underdeveloped and developing countries should receive compensations for carbon reduction from developed countries who took advantage of growth without consideration of climate impact,” says Andres Ibanez, professor of marketing at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.