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Blog » Taxing Energy Use 2019 - USING TAXES FOR CLIMATE ACTION


Created Oct 16 2019, 6:48 PM by Bruce Summers

OECD (2019), Taxing Energy Use 2019: Using Taxes for Climate Action, OECD Publishing, Paris,

108 pages


Public pressure is mounting for action on climate change. Keeping climate change at bay in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement will require deep cuts in emissions. In the absence of decisive action, extreme weather events such as storms, floods, droughts and heat waves will become more frequent and severe, and rising sea levels will endanger coastal cities and entire island states. Against this background, it is disconcerting that energy-related CO2 emissions reached an all-time high in 2018.

While not in itself sufficient, taxing polluting fuels is an effective way to help curb emissions that harm the planet and human health. Well-designed systems of energy taxation encourage citizens and investors to favour clean over polluting energy sources. As a result, citizens and businesses will consume fewer carbon-intensive goods and services, and gradually transition to low or zero-carbon activities. Taxes on fuels equally discourage investments in carbon-intensive assets, such as coal-fired power stations, which reduces the risk of high adjustment costs in the future.

Raising the price of energy is a very effective way of reducing emissions but the impacts on households can be large. Some households may find that normal patterns of energy use become unaffordable. Many may find it difficult to cut energy consumption quickly, meaning that spending on other items falls. In general, care must be taken that energy price reform does not become unbearable. The OECD investigates the impacts of energy price reform, and finds that using a part of the revenues from higher energy taxes is often sufficient to ensure that energy affordability is maintained; broader revenue recycling strategies – e.g., revenue transfers, or income tax reductions – allow ensuring that decarbonisation efforts are equitable. The detailed stocktake of energy taxes in this report provides policy-makers with precise information to help identify the most effective and inclusive reform options.

The OECD’s Taxing Energy Use 2019 shows that governments are not deploying energy and carbon taxes to their full potential. The report identifies avenues for policy reforms that will improve environment and climate outcomes while simultaneously boosting the performance of the fiscal system to promote equity, well-being, competitiveness, and efficient tax policy. The report presents new and original data on energy taxes and carbon taxes in OECD and G20 countries, and in international aviation and maritime transport. Tax rates and tax coverage are detailed by country, sector, energy source and tax type. The use of a common methodology ensures full comparability of tax rates and structures across countries. Summary indicators facilitate cross-country comparisons. (Read more - See attached file)