OECD urges countries to tax dirty energy

(EurActiv, 15 Feb 2018) The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has encouraged governments to start taxing CO2 emissions more aggressively, in a new report which warns that current taxation levels are not enough to fight climate change effectively.

In its Taxing Energy Use 2018 study, the OECD concluded that there was little change in energy taxation levels between 2012 and 2015, and that only 0.3% of emissions are taxed at a level that is equitable to the cost to the environment.

It also showed that coal taxes are few and far between, even though the fossil fuel accounts for nearly 50% of carbon emissions in the 42 countries that were studied. In only five countries does coal taxation exceed €5 per tCO2.

“There is no structural change to the pattern of taxes on energy use between 2012 and 2015. This is disconcerting,” says Angel Gurría, secretary-general of the OECD. He acknowledged that countries are starting to implement the ‘polluter pays principle’ but warned that progress is “slow and piecemeal”.

Gurría added in his foreword to the report that “aligning energy prices with the costs of climate change and air pollution is essential for effective and efficient action, and major improvements are urgently needed.”

Oil taxes predictably emerged as the most substantially used financial tool, as they topped €50 per tCO2 on average. Surprisingly, petrol taxes outstripped diesel taxes in all but two of the studied countries. The report said several countries have identified that problem and are making changes.

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EurActiv, 15 Feb 2018: OECD urges countries to tax dirty energy