investment, or simply pay back the amount equally to every inhabitant, as is done in Switzerland with the CO2 tax on fossil heating fuels. At the
Germany has introduced several eco-taxes. The fi rst was on electricity and petrol, at variable rates based on environmental factors; renewable electricity is not taxed. The second adjusted taxes to favour effi cient conventional power plants, and the third increased the petrol tax. At the same time, income taxes were reduced proportionally so that the total tax burden remained constant. This is a crucial issue
in countries where citizens have a say on taxation. Often, a law will not pass if it implies additional funds for the state. But if it is income-neutral and only penalises those who pollute more to reward the ones who pollute less, there is a higher chance that the new law will pass.
same time revenue can be used to create incentives and compensate those companies who invest in climate friendly alternatives. But not everybody is convinced that taxing environmentally-unfriendly products or activities is the way forward. Mark Moody-Stuart, ex-chairman of Shell, told the London Times that merely taxing “gas-guzzling” cars allowed the rich to evade responsibility for climate change: “When we eliminated coal fires in London we didn’t say to people in Chelsea you can pay a bit more and toast your crumpets in front of an open fi re. We said nobody could have an open fire.”
New Zealand, one of the founder members of the UNEP Climate Neutral Network, has a public information site (www.sustainability.govt.nz) to enlist and encourage everyone concerned to reduce their footprint. Leading by example, its Carbon Neutral Public Sector Initiative seeks to demonstrate the
Government’s leadership on sustainability and achieving climate neutrality. The programme aims to offset the GHG emissions of an initial group of six governmental agencies by 2012. Unavoidable emissions will be offset, primarily through indigenous forest regeneration projects on conservation land. All 34 public service agencies were due to have emission reduction plans in place by December 2007.
How we move
Mobility is getting cheaper for many people (though not everyone) in industrial countries, often so cheap that we scarcely notice the cost. For the atmosphere, though, the price is getting higher all the time, because most methods of trans-
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