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Ann Arbor considers carbon tax on itself to help achieve carbon neutrality

Ann Arbor city hall.
Heritage Media

The city of Ann Arbor is considering a carbon tax on internal operations that rely on fossil fuels and carbon emissions. This comes three months after the city declared a climate emergency and set a goal of carbon neutrality for the city by 2030.

Achieving carbon neutrality will mean making major cuts in carbon dioxide emissions along with efforts and plans to offset the emissions that still remain, with the eventual goal of reaching zero overall.

City officials believe that Ann Arbor’s vehicle fleet — particularly law enforcement vehicles — would be most affected by such a tax. They also hope that this will spark conversations on using electric vehicles, a prospect the city has considered in recent years.

Christopher Taylor is the mayor of Ann Arbor. He says there are no concrete plans for such a tax yet, but city staff are researching options to create a budget that prioritizes environmental sustainability, and a carbon tax will be considered.

Our goal, as we seek to achieve community-wide carbon neutrality, is to ensure that the internal units that are purchasing carbon-heavy assets, that are utilizing carbon-heavy practices, that they bear the cost of that choice.”

Taylor uses the example of a law enforcement vehicle. He says if the vehicle costs $40,000, the internal division responsible for the purchase would pay $45,000: $40,000 for the vehicle, and $5,000 would go towards advancing carbon neutrality goals within the city.

He says that in the grand scheme of things, Ann Arbor will have to do a lot more if they are to achieve what he calls an aggressive goal.

“Municipal operations account for about 2 percent of the carbon load in the city. Approximately one third of the rest is the University of Michigan, one third is transportation, and one third is everybody else. You know, business, commerce, industry, residents," Taylor said. "It's important that any community-wide solution take all those things into account, and that's what we're looking to do.”

City Council will hear more about this proposed carbon tax in an upcoming budget meeting that will focus on the city’s sustainability efforts and the carbon-neutrality goal. The meeting is scheduled for March 30.

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Caroline is a third year history major at the University of Michigan. She also works at The Michigan Daily, where she has been a copy editor and an opinion columnist. When she’s not at work, you can find her down at Argo Pond as a coxswain for the Michigan men’s rowing team. Caroline loves swimming, going for walks, being outdoors, cooking, trivia, and spending time with her two-year-old cat, Pepper.
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