Public Support for Carbon Taxation in Spain
Climate change is a reality in Spain and elsewhere. A recent study of the Spanish weather agency and the Ministry for Ecological Transition has pointed out that the summers are hotter and on average 5 weeks longer than they used to be in the 1980’s. This has not gone unnoticed as 83% of Spaniards consider that climate change is happening and over 94% believes human activity is the main culprit (CIS Barometer November 2018). Another very significant perception of the Spanish citizenry is support for the idea that whomever pollutes should be economically accountable for it, as 84.5% of the respondents stated to be in agreement with this idea.
However, Spain is one of the European Union countries which has least explored environmental taxation policies as a means to achieve the carbon emissions targets set by the 2015 Paris Agreement. According to Nebreda (2019), Spain is the third lowest European economy to collect environmental taxes in terms of percentage of the GDP: just over 1.5% while the European average is closer to 2.5%.
The importance of environmental taxation policies and, more concretely, carbon taxation lies in the fact that it is considered to be the most economically efficient as well as environmentally effective way to reduce greenhouse emissions and follow through with the targets of the Paris climate agreement (Baranzini et al., 2017) However, one of the main barriers of a global spread of effective carbon pricing systems is public support (Carattini, Carvalho, & Fankhauser, 2018; Carattini, Kallbekken, & Orlov, 2019; Klenert et al., 2018; Maestre-Andrés, Drews, & van den Bergh, 2019). As introducing new taxes is usually seen as a political handicap, the governments which have actually implemented carbon taxes are rather the exception than the rule. According to the World Bank, only around 30 countries have actually introduced carbon princing (“Carbon Pricing,” n.d.). The aim of this research is to determine under what conditions the introduction of a carbon tax would be most favorably seen by public opinion in Spain.