As human populations increase, available land and resources decrease, and we begin to better understand the impacts of human activity on the environment, a strategy for human development that meets both the needs of society and the environment is being increasingly called upon. This movement has come to be known as sustainability. While this term is prevalent in the design and planning communities, it is important that this concept be brought to the attention of the general public, whom will ultimately decide the success or failure of this scheme. The question then is how to begin implementation of sustainable practices, as well as how to inform the largest segments of the population about the need to do so.
The main objective of this thesis is to demonstrate that environmental taxes have the ability to begin the transition to a more sustainable society, both by addressing the goals of sustainability, and by increasing public awareness. Research gathered from this investigation is used to determine five goals of sustainability, and six results of environmental taxation. By demonstrating that the results of environmental taxation can be directly related to the goals of sustainability, it is possible to show that environmental taxes have the capacity to bring about many of the changes necessary in achieving a more sustainable society.
The ability of environmental taxes and tax shifting to promote eco-efficiency, improve environmental quality, generate revenue, bring about educational and behavioral change, create new jobs and industries, and stimulate innovation suggest that these measures may be one means of achieving a more sustainable society. This is based on the fact that many of the results of environmental taxes can be applied to more than one of the goals of sustainability, which are the conservation of natural resources, the maintenance of diversity, distributional equity, public participation, and education. This paper does not profess to be the only answer, it is simply one possible solution to a problem that we face today, and will continue to face in growing proportions if nothing is done to address the problem.