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The Gap Year Blog

Are Alternative Taxes Needed to Hit Net-Zero Emissions?

26 Sep 2019 16:00 PM

It is without doubt that taxes can be used for both incentives and disincentives. Implementing a carbon tax would encourage use of renewable energy and energy efficiency, while discouraging the use of energy of sources and methods that are more likely to pollute the atmosphere and cause global warming. In doing so, a carbon tax puts a price on the amount of pollution that particular goods and services cost, forcing manufacturers and service providers to acknowledge the environmental effects and pay the price for their actions. The tax would give the government surplus money, enabling them to invest in carbon-efficient development projects, to fund schemes that incentivise the public to ‘make do and mend’, and promote a circular fashion economy.


Aviation Taxes for Frequent Flyers

It is likely that aviation will become the largest emitting sector in the UK by 2050 despite progress in technology and development of biofuels, as demand continues to increase. In order to curb global emissions in line with the net zero carbon target, a plausible plan is required immediately. The Committee for Climate Change suggested that frequent flyers, such as businessmen and women, and the wealthy elite should pay extra for taking multiple flights abroad. Whilst this may seem socially unjust, it stems from the understanding that 70% of all flights are taken by the wealthiest 15% of society. The social disparity between the have’s and have not’s is obvious, evident in the way that the wealthy elite continue to benefit from their frequent flight whilst emitting carbon emissions that impact us all. Perhaps this tax would be a disincentive for businesses to conduct meetings abroad and instead encourage them to take advantage of video communication and conference services to facilitate meetings with staff overseas.


Carbon Intensive Food Taxes

According to researchers at Oxford University, imposing a tax on carbon intensive foods such as meat and dairy could drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help combat climate change. With price increases of up to 20%, estimates suggest that this could result in 10% lower consumption – an astonishing decrease that would save more emissions than those currently created by global aviation. Dr Springmann from the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food states: ‘If you’d have to pay 40% more for your steak, you might choose to have it once a week instead of twice’. Whilst cutting global warming emissions, tariffs of 40% on beef, 20% on dairy products and 8.5% on chicken could also save half a million lives a year. Action in this way would subsequently bring about awareness surrounding current health and environmental issues caused by the livestock industry, and lead to a systemic and societal change that helps people view meat and dairy as a luxury, rather than a necessity.



Fast Fashion Tax

Current fashion trends and increasing consumer demands for single-use clothing are fostering an unsustainable ‘throwaway culture’ – evident in the way that £140m worth of clothes go to landfill every year. According to a parliamentary report, textile production creates an estimated 1.2bn tonnes of CO2 each year, highlighting the industry’s immense environmental consequences. MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee have proposed a ‘one penny tax’ on every new item of clothing that is produced, that would be collected from producers, not consumers. Whilst this may not seem much to multinational corporations that turn over millions, their cost of production would increase, and their subsequent profit margins would substantially reduce. It’s not all bad news, as there would be tax incentives for companies that offer clothing repair services, and rewards available for those who have greater transparency into their supply chains.

By Olivia Wallis - Online Journalism Intern

Frontier runs terrestrial & marine conservationcommunityteaching and adventure projects in over 50 countries - join us and explore the world!