Ecotaxation - Solutions
Society needs to make certain changes in order to achieve ecological sustainability. Firstly, it needs to be able to resolve any major problems quickly and efficiently. Secondly, it needs to limit the consumption of limited resources and the use of land. It also needs to operate in a world that can cope with its number of human inhabitants, without exhausting the use of the world’s resources and without killing off animal and plant life. In short, society needs to have a major re-think about how it operates in relation to the natural world. One important step is the development and implementation of eco-tax to restrict environmental damage.
Environmental problems are often global, but the structures that enforce them are usually national i.e. governments. We need better co-ordination between global and national development if the environment is to be protected effectively. Each country has to assume that other countries will enforce their own taxation laws, as there is no global authority that will ensure all countries obey regulations.
As well as environmental problems being global, many of the world’s resources are also global; one example being the ocean. No one country can be said to have ownership of the world’s seas, so all countries are assumed to be doing their part to protect this resource and comply with green taxation laws. Methods need to be employed to ensure that national governments protect these global resources.
Taxing energy at its source is one possible green tax. Some industries such as agribusiness are energy-intensive and can involve high levels of pollution and intensive use of resources. By taxing energy at source, hopefully, use of non-renewable resources can be reduced as well as levels of pollution. If this tax is made a global one, it may encourage the North to reduce the huge burden it puts on the planet with its atmospheric pollution.
Another example of an eco-tax is on toxicity, i.e. a levy on hazardous substances and pesticides, in proportion to their toxicity. The money could be used to fund the clean up of contaminated sites and pay for organics research.
The money gained from eco-tax needs to be managed effectively otherwise the tax is worthless. Hopefully taxes implemented across the world will mean that society will eventually see that polluting the environment is not free and that there are long-term costs involved.
People will do everything they can to avoid paying the tax, thereby comply with the terms of environmental protection. As the economy changes, the tax needs to be increased in line with financial prosperity, otherwise society finds it can afford to pay the tax easily and goes back to its old polluting way. The best types of taxes are those that people readily and quickly respond to.
As with any tax, involving additional payments, most people will initially respond negatively, however there are ways in which people can be informed and persuaded of the benefits of eco-taxation. Voluntary mechanisms do not work – we need incentives and disincentives.
Eco-tax is not a fast-acting solution but it is an important one. Some issues require resolution and green taxation solutions urgently.