Commission to count cost of environmental change

A high-powered commission has been established to look at green taxes and other fiscal reforms in the UK.

The Green Fiscal Commission was launched on Wednesday and brings together leading politicians from all major parties, academics, industry experts, regulators and consumer watchdogs and will be chaired by Robert Napier, chairman of the Met Office and former chief executive of conservation NGO WWF.

The commission will look at ways to reward positive behaviour with tax breaks while penalising actions which have a negative impact on the environment.

It will not seek to increase tax revenue overall, but rather to shift the existing system to encourage environmentally, and economically, beneficial behaviour in business and amongst the general public.

While it will advise Government, it will be independent of it and has been funded by charitable trusts.

"Most policy experts believe that the fiscal system has a vital role to play in the face of rising greenhouse gas emissions," said Mr Napier.

"Sending the right signals for businesses and households to conserve energy and to create and use more energy-efficient products is vital. Our polling shows clearly that people support green taxes in general, but when the revenues go to improve the environment further, or to reduce other taxes, they become even more supportive."

Professor Paul Ekins, director of the new commission, said: "The balance of evidence suggests that green fiscal reform can be positive for both the environment and the economy.

"The commission will take special care to explore the impacts of changing the tax base on both business competitiveness and low-income households and show how its overall effects can be made even more positive.

"Green fiscal reform is essential to counter climate change. When the commission has finished its work, politicians and policy makers will have a serious and well thought-through set of proposals for fair and balanced reform, to choose from and implement in their own way."

Sam Bond



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