Throughout the U.S. economy, millions of decentralized decisions are made every day that contribute to the problem of climate change. A national carbon-pricing system—in the form of either carbon taxes or cap-and-trade—is the only policy that can significantly tilt them all in a climate-friendly direction. Given the ubiquity and diversity of energy use in a modern economy, conventional regulatory approaches simply cannot do the job.
Stavins, Robert N. "Curbing Carbon." Technology Review, March/April 2011.