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Greening the Budget

Budgetary Policies for Environmental Improvement

Edited by J. Peter Clinch, Kai Schlegelmilch, Rolf-Ulrich Sprenger and Ursula Triebswetter

Greening the Budget regards the fundamental cause of environmental degradation as government and market failure and proposes the use of budgets as an instrument of environmental policy to rectify this problem. The book focuses on the elements of the public budget which currently affect the environment and explores the scope for greening both revenue and expenditure through specific measures.
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Chapter 8: Designing a land-use tax

Budgetary Policies for Environmental Improvement

Kilian Bizer


Kilian Bizer1 1. INTRODUCTION In much of the literature, the discussion of greening the tax system focuses on various forms of energy or carbon dioxide taxes. Other taxes are largely neglected. In this chapter a different and supplementary tax proposal is outlined, which focuses on taxing land use in order to influence land-use decisions towards more sustainable forms of utilization. National concepts of sustainable development include policy goals for land uses. The more densely populated the country, the more detailed and sophisticated the goals for land uses. In Germany, these goals originated in the nineteenth century, when certain landscapes began to influence the forming of national identity. Later on, at the beginning of the twentieth century, youth movements emphasized living ‘out in nature’. Institutionally, this development was followed by the emergence of various acts in order to protect certain environments and landscapes. Similar developments took place in the USA, France and Britain as well as in other European countries, although resulting in different land-use patterns. In the last 30 years this culturally embedded valuation of landscapes was supplemented by a growing awareness of ecological functions provided by an unimpaired soil. Soil protection, either as cleaning up of contaminated sites or as proactive protection of soil functions, received increasing attention. The optimal level of preserving natural surfaces is reached once the marginal environmental cost of utilizing one additional unit of the surface equals the benefit. Unfortunately, this optimal level of land use is not easily determined empirically, as the environmental cost...

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