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Tax-Neutral Carbon Charges are Needed: ECO

"Tax-neutral carbon emission charges are needed and needed soon to keep faith with the future and to limit climate destabilisation," says Cath Wallace spokesperson for the Environment and Conservation Organisations of NZ (ECO).

"The government’s recent announcements of building controls and energy efficiency standards are welcome but not nearly enough," says Ms Wallace who is professionally an economist.

"Measures to impose energy efficiency standards are a good idea for both immediate and long term effect, but ultimately to change our behaviour in making transport and production and consumption choices, we all need to get the message through our pockets."

"It will only be when prices reflect the true environmental costs of fossil fuel use that we will make sensible decisions that cause a fundamental turn away from the use of fossil fuels to sustainable alternatives such as wind and solar," says ECO.

"The impact of a carbon emission charge will be to raise some costs so it essential that the charge be off-set by a reduction in GST or other taxes. A reduction of GST is preferred to a reduction in income tax since those on benefits would not be helped by a reduction in income tax."

"A carbon charge will have the double dividend of giving more jobs since more energy intense processes tend to have fewer jobs. ECO would like to see the government get serious about shifting the economy onto a more sustainable path with more jobs and less fossil fuels – it will not do that by simply introducing some standards.

"Tradable emission permits can look good on paper as an efficient method, but in fact these would be much more difficult to design right and it would be far too long before they could be introduced.

"ECO would like to see the government move with a much greater sense of urgency than it appears to have. What is at stake is the future of planetary systems – the stakes are high and the risks large, albeit slow to unfold. For the sake of the future we should pay real prices now. A carbon charge would do that.


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