Update, 2023-01-06:

Thank you to u/PlatosCaveSlave on Reddit for the great point about the affordability of this method of carbon “taxing”:

While that’s great if you are wealthy… there is co [no] way I could afford to do this. And also how about the fact the burden of responsibility here should be on huge corps to paybfornthis [pay for this]. Not everyday people.

This is a method that has worked great for myself and my family’s situation, but donations to climate-focused organizations are just one of the many ways to affect change.

Volunteering, spreading the word about the effects of climate change, and reducing your CO2 emissions can have just as large of an impact - if not more - on the future of this planet.

What do you mean “carbon tax yourself”?

Donating to a climate-focused organization based on an estimate of your 2022 emissions.


Some governments already have carbon taxes, but they are too low, according to the International Monetary Fund:

Despite the proliferation of carbon pricing schemes, policymakers should do more. To limit global warming, coverage must expand while prices rise from a global average of \$6 per ton of CO2 today to \$75 by 2030.

So while a bill like the Inflation Reduction Act should be celebrated for its accomplishments, since it will likely have a positive effect on climate change, there is more work to be done.

Under a business-as-usual scenario (without the IRA), the U.S. would be expected to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by between 24% and 35% by 2030 compared to 2005 levels. This reduction is a far cry from the 50-52% reduction target set in the latest U.S. nationally determined contribution (NDC). With the passage of the IRA, GHG reductions are expected to reach 31% to 44% by 2030.


1. Fill out this 3-minute survey by CarboTax and make note of the final number

I tested it, and it only took 3 minutes and 15 seconds.

2. Pick a social cost of carbon

Even when a nation puts a price on carbon it is often too low compared to the true externalities caused by pollution, often called the social cost of carbon.

Some Options

The cost varies greatly, but most of us tax ourselves at $0/tCO2, so picking any number is a step in the right direction.

EstimateSocial Cost per Metric TonSource
Previous Federal Estimate$51Energy Wire
EPA’s New Proposal$190Energy Wire
RFF + UC Berkely\$44-413 (“Preferred Mean”: \$185)Nature

3. Optional: If applicable, subtract your state’s current price of carbon

Twelve states have some sort of carbon pricing but it can be difficult to discern what the price of carbon is, especially with states that use cap and trade instead of a true carbon tax. I was unable to find a reliable source that provided state-by-state prices on carbon.

4. Calculate your tax for the previous year

$$ tax = x * (y-z)$$ where:

  • $x$: Tonnes of CO2 from step #1
  • $y$: Cost from step #2
  • $z$: Cost from step #3

5. Where to donate the “tax”?

I’ve laid out a couple of climate-focused charities, but I would encourage you to do additional research to understand if your charity is having the effect it says it does on climate change.

Is this a true carbon tax?

No, instead this is a fun data-driven way to be mindful of your emissions and give to organizations that will help reduce the harm they have caused. A true carbon tax would be facilitated by a government and would likely include a dividend.

Additonal info on Carbon Taxes:

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