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A lot of hot air?

Kitty Miv, Editor
10 November, 2021

With all eyes on the COP26 United Nations Climate Change Conference taking place in Scotland this week, now seems like a good time to take stock of environmental tax initiatives being put in place around the world.

Ahead of the event, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs released a new Handbook on Carbon Taxation for Developing Countries, intended to help countries to advance their decarbonization efforts to contribute to commitments from the Paris Agreement.

At the launch event, the panel discussed how carbon taxation can be instrumental in the fight against climate change, and also support Governments' fiscal responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The OECD also recently released a new report, 'Carbon Pricing in Times of COVID-19: What has changed in G20 economies?' which suggested that although carbon pricing applies to 49 percent of energy-related emissions today, up from 37 percent in 2018, progress is uneven and more needs to be done by the G20 economies to meet their climate goals.

The report noted that several countries have introduced or extended carbon taxes or emissions trading systems in the last few years. However, it argued that G20 states need to enact broader policies, using the full range of policy tools available, if they are to match their long-term climate ambitions with outcomes.

In the UK Budget, nestled among the more obviously headline-grabbing measures, was the announcement that from 2023, the Government will introduce exemptions for eligible plant and machinery used in onsite renewable energy generation and storage, and a new 100 percent relief for eligible heat networks, to support the decarbonization of buildings.

And in the Philippines, Finance Department Assistant Secretary, Paola Alvarez, told the state news agency that Filipino lawmakers are studying potential carbon tax options, explaining that although the Philippines presently has no plan to tax carbon emissions, studies have been conducted in coordination with the World Bank (WB).

"Imposing a carbon tax would require significant institutional capacity from the government and sector stakeholders," Alvarez told the Philippines News Agency. "Currently, the House of Representatives and the Senate are in the process of developing legislation that will promote and establish appropriate [carbon pricing instrument (CPI)] in the Philippines," she said.

In Australia, meanwhile, the Government has ruled out the reintroduction of an unpopular carbon tax. Australia introduced a short-lived carbon tax from July 1, 2012, after years of political wrangling on the issue of taxing carbon emissions, which required around 500 large carbon emitters to purchase a permit for each tonne of pollution released into the atmosphere.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has pledged to target net zero emissions by 2050, but without reinstating a carbon tax. Setting out the Government's plans on October 26, he announced that: "The Morrison Government will act in a practical, responsible way to deliver net zero emissions by 2050 while preserving Australian jobs and generating new opportunities for industries and regional Australia."

The Government has said it intends to channel investment to industries to "deliver results through technology, not taxes".

Until next week!


About the Author

Kitty Miv, Editor

Kitty was born in Argentina in 1960 to a Scottish cattle rancher and his Argentine wife. Educated in Edinburgh and at Princeton, Kitty worked for the World Bank as an economist, where she met and married an emigre Iranian banker. During her time with the Bank, Kitty worked in a number of emerging markets, including a spell in the ex-USSR as a Transition Economies Team Leader. Kitty is now a consultant in Brussels and has free-lance writing relationships with a number of prominent economic publications. kitty@lowtax.net


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