Carbon tax profile for the State of Hawaii (Kiana Kobayashi; previous version byWinnie Alston)

% change 1990-2007
Fossil fuel CO2 emissions, in millions of metric tonnes[1]
Fossil fuel CO2 emissions, in millions of short tons[2]
Population, in millions[3]
Per capita CO2 emissions, in short tons

Per capita CO2 emissions in Hawaii in 2007, 20.5 short tons, were slightly lower than the U.S. average, 21.0 short tons per capita.[4] The state's energy policy emphasizes sustainability and reducing its dependence on imported oil. In 2007, Hawaii ranked 48th in energy production and 42nd in CO2 emissions from generating electric power.[5]

A carbon tax of $30 per short ton of CO2 (about $0.30 per gallon of gasoline, or about $0.03 per kWh of coal-fired power) would have raised about $719.4 million in 2007 (about $553 per person), assuming a 10% reduction in emissions. For comparison purposes, in 2007 the state General Excise and Use Tax (GET), the largest source of state tax revenue, generated about $3.56 billion (55% of tax revenues)[6] , individual income taxes generated about $1.7 billion (36.9%), and taxes from public service companies generated $111 million (< 3%).[7]

So a carbon tax of $30 per short ton of CO2 (assuming a 10% reduction in emissions) could have replaced all of the following state taxes: banks, conveyance, corporate income, inheritance and estate, insurance premiums, liquor and permits, tobacco and license, and all others except GET and individual income. Or, the carbon tax could have replaced 22% of the GET tax [7] or about 42% of the individual income tax.[8]

The GET is a seller-based tax of 5% assessed on the gross income of most businesses operating in the State of Hawaii. The tax is effectively borne by consumers as sellers pass the charge to buyers; there is no legal requirement that sellers disclose the tax to consumers [7]. The GET is the means by which the state maximizes an indirect tax on the tourism trade at each level of purchase and sale.

Unlike mainland states, Hawaii has no neighbors to serve as energy resources, and therefore, is heavily dependent on imported oil, which produces 90% of the state's energy[9] . Close to nine-tenths of Hawaii’s energy comes from petroleum. Hawaii uses small amounts of coal and very little natural gas. Hawaii’s main industry is tourism, and the State economy is not energy intensive. Due in large part to heavy jet-fuel use by military installations and commercial airlines, the transportation sector is the leading energy-consuming sector, accounting for over one-half of the State's total energy consumption [5]. Fortunately, Hawaii has a wealth of sustainable, yet untapped, natural resources that could potentially decrease its dependence on fossil fuels: wave energy (Hawaii has some of the most powerful waves per square meter in the world), biomass technology, wind, solar, and geothermal [10] . The state also has significant economic incentives to protect its natural resources and adopt sustainable energy policies. In 2007 the legislature passed HB226, Act 234, climate change legislation which mandates a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.[11] [12]
Carbon offsets
  1. ^ From EPA, “State CO2 Emissions from fossil fuel combustion, 1990-2007”, linked from here.
  2. ^ Used for conversion.
  3. ^ 2007 population from the U.S. Census Bureau, 1990 population from U.S. Census Bureau,
  4. ^ U.S. population of 301.6 million in 2007 from U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. carbon emissions of 5.757 billion tonnes (or 6.346 short tons) of CO2 from EPA's 2010 U.S. Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report
  5. ^ Energy Information Administration. Hawaii state profile and quick facts,
  6. ^ An introduction to the General Excise Tax (GET), State of Hawaii Department of Taxation,
  7. ^ State of Hawaii, Economic Data Book,
  8. ^ Hawaii revenue sources for FY 2006 and 2007;
  9. ^ Hawaii energy strategy 2000 summary,
  10. ^ A copy of Hawaii’s greenhouse gas policy can be found here:
  11. ^ Hawaii energy policy,
  12. ^ The text of HB226, Act 234,