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  • Series: Critical Issues in Environmental Taxation series x
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Mikael Skou Andersen

At the initiative of the World Bank and IMF an international coalition on carbon pricing was established in tandem with the Paris Agreement. Over the past five years, the share of global CO2 emissions subject to carbon pricing via either taxes or allowances has tripled, from 4 to 12 per cent. In anticipation of a widening gap between countries, the scope for border adjustments relative to carbon pricing deserves more attention. Border adjustments would require pricing of imports for their associated emissions to the same level as domestic goods, while exports to non-price countries may become eligible for refunds. Trade agreements under the WTO allow for such adjustment under its exemption clause provided countries do not agree to other corrective measures. As a highly sensitive measure, not only the complex technical and legal questions deserve attention, but how to make the best diplomacy of border adjustments requires careful consideration too.

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Takeshi Kawakatsu and Sven Rudolph

The Paris Agreement urgently needs underpinning by ambitious domestic policies. Greenhouse gas (GHG) pricing is still promising and has been spreading, but implementation barriers are still high. The US and Canada have shown that sub-national pricing is a viable alternative to national action. But, with the politics remaining unpredictable, Canada might rise to be the new leader in market-based climate policy from the bottom up. Against this background we analyze Canadian provinces’ approaches to GHG pricing. We use Sustainability Economics, Public Choice, New Environmental Federalism, and Polycentrism arguments as a basis and then study the British Columbia Carbon Tax and the Québec and Ontario Cap-and-Trade Programs. We mainly show that tailor-made sub-national GHG pricing is a viable strategy and that province programs are comparatively well designed and might even trigger national level action.

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Elena Aydos and Sven Rudolph

In Australia political battles about carbon pricing have been almost as fiercely fought as the duels in the 1985 Mad Max movie. While a ‘life beyond the Thunderdome’ could be facilitated by the Paris Agreement, political barriers in Australia, one of the biggest per capita emitters of greenhouse gases and the world’s leading coal exporter, remain high. Australia’s political stakeholders still struggle with this legacy of several only temporarily successful attempts to implement carbon pricing. Against this background, we evaluate Australia’s former carbon pricing initiatives based on ambitious sustainability economics criteria. Using Public Choice theory and empirical data from spring 2017, we then analyse the reasons for the political failure of earlier carbon pricing schemes, before exploring current chances of reviving the idea. We mainly argue that a growing openness of the business community and policy learning could make ‘life beyond the Thunderdome’ possible for carbon pricing in Australia.

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Vanessa Johnston

Climate change is widely accepted to pose a range of risks and challenges for Australia. As a result, Federal, State/Territory, and local governments are taking action to both mitigate, and adapt to, the consequences of climate change. This chapter explores two overarching issues of how activities undertaken to mitigate climate change are affecting land use in Australia. First, what are the nature and scope, and the grounds for exercising rights over private property under Australian law in the context of climate change? Second, how is use and enjoyment of private property affected by Australia’s flagship mechanism to encourage GHG emissions mitigation, the Emissions Reduction Fund (‘ERF’)?

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Claudia Kettner and Daniela Kletzan-Slamanig

Climate change is widely accepted to pose a range of risks and challenges for Australia. As a result, Federal, State/Territory, and local governments are taking action to both mitigate, and adapt to, the consequences of climate change. This chapter explores two overarching issues of how activities undertaken to mitigate climate change are affecting land use in Australia. First, what are the nature and scope, and the grounds for exercising rights over private property under Australian law in the context of climate change? Second, how is use and enjoyment of private property affected by Australia’s flagship mechanism to encourage GHG emissions mitigation, the Emissions Reduction Fund (‘ERF’)?

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Shelagh Whitley, Laurie van der Burgh, Leah Worrall and Sejal Patel

Coal subsidies were reviewed in ten countries responsible for 84 per cent of Europe’s energy-related greenhouse gas emissions: France, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Italy, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the UK. Despite commitments on climate change, fossil fuel subsidies and air pollution, all countries provided some form of subsidy to coal, through budgetary support or tax breaks, in 2016. Six countries have introduced new coal subsidies, worth €875 million per year, since the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. In aggregate, €6.3 billion per year was provided (average for 2005–2016) across a total of 65 coal subsidies identified. Only a minority (€859 million per year) are supporting workers and communities to transition away from coal mining, while subsidies with the stated objective of the energy transition are being directed to coal (€1 billion per year). We recommend that European governments increase transparency and accountability to meet existing subsidy phase-out commitments – and undertake consistent annual reporting.

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Marta Villar Ezcurra

Noise pollution has wide-ranging adverse health, social and economic effects. This chapter explores the current state of the art of noise pollution taxation in order to identify what role it can play within the environmental taxation framework. Although there are few environmental taxes in force directly addressing noise pollution, in instances where these have been applied, they have been successful. Nowadays, certain circumstances favour noise pollution taxes becoming a real option. The electric car is a real possibility, allowing for new taxes aiming to drive the market towards options that are more favourable to the environment with respect to noise emissions and that, simultaneously, help neutralise the social costs of acoustic emissions. The application of noise pollution taxes to motor vehicles is of particular interest due to the number of motor vehicles and their polluting effects, and because of the growing concentration of the population in large cities.

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Stephanie Lee, Heidi Hylton Meier and Paul J. Lee

The earth and its inhabitants are suffering due to the detriments of pollution. ‘Paleoclimates’, the historic average global temperature records, have shown that global warming is increasing much faster than in the past. This chapter studies how the population and transportation of Seoul, South Korea have been the biggest causes of environmental problems. Being the second-largest metropolitan population in the world, there are many different factors of pollution that need to be addressed in order for South Korea and its inhabitants to avoid the serious detriments it could face in the future. This chapter examines the harm from air pollution, food waste pollution, and water pollution in Seoul, South Korea, and the possible solutions that can be implemented to help decrease the damage to the environment.

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Lise Tupiassu, Bernardo Mendonça Nobrega and Jean-Raphaël Gros-Désormaux

Brazil’s fiscal federalism determines that part of the revenue the State collects from the State sales tax (in Portuguese Imposto de Circulação de Mercadorias e Serviços (ICMS)) must be distributed to its municipalities as most of it is given based on an equal proportion to the amount generated in each county. This favors the more developed cities, more capable of generating tax revenue, and penalizes those with environmental conservation areas, water reservoirs and other legal restrictions that reduce the capability of economic production. This system fails to reduce inequality between the municipalities and does not consider positive externalities. As a solution, some States started implementing environmental conditions for the distribution of a part of the ICMS revenue creating the Green ICMS. The study aims to present this tax instrument, exposing its merits, achievements and problems.

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María Amparo Grau Ruiz

The innovative ‘mainstreaming approach’ for climate-related action is described and assessed, together with the ‘non-productive investments’ in the European Union. The recent European Court of Auditors’ recommendations and the European Commission’s reactions on these issues are carefully analysed. Both the European Funds and the national co-financing should provide support to promote sustainable goals in a cost-effective manner. The responsibilities to achieve this may vary for the EU and the Member States, depending on the direct or shared management mode applied. In response to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the ‘quality’ of public spending should be improved, finding a balance between the robustness of data and the administrative effort required.