This post by was originally published on Business Green.
Tax is one of the most powerful tools the government has at its disposal to address the challenges of the 21st century. In combination with the right regulation, targets and strategies, taxes could be used to shape a sustainable economy, giving people and businesses alike the incentives they need to do the right thing.
In just a few short months this year, world leaders will assemble at two landmark conferences to hammer out solutions to the two biggest environmental challenges facing the planet. The COP15 Biodiversity Summit in Kunming in October will be the first since the 2010 Aichi summit which agreed 20 biodiversity targets (none of which have been delivered). Hot on its heels, the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow in November will be the first major coming together of nations since the 2015 Paris climate agreement.
At the risk of being uncool, I get very excited about ecodesign. Specifically, I have great enthusiasm for what it, together with energy labelling, has achieved and what it could do in future. It has been one of the most effective policies at improving environmental outcomes, at the same time as benefiting consumers and driving product innovation. It’s the reason why so many of our everyday appliances are so much more effective at what they do than they used to be. By the most conservative of estimates (the ones produced by the UK government), these measures save the average household £100 a year and cut the UK’s emissions by eight million tonnes of CO2 equivalent in a year.
“There’s never actually been a more exciting time to be working in resources and waste”, according to Environment Minister Rebecca Pow, who was speaking at an event we hosted last week. She added: “That’s a strange thing to be saying about waste, but I genuinely think that there are huge opportunities, both for the economy and the environment, that can be harnessed – can be, and need to be – and government is putting in place the policies that we so much need.”
It can’t have come as a massive surprise to many that, as coronavirus surges once again, the chancellor has cancelled the autumn budget. With so much uncertainty around the state of the country’s finances, the logic goes, now would not be a good time to make tax changes.
This post was first published on Business Green.
“In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” So observed Benjamin Franklin in 1789 (and possibly a great many others before him) and it is still accepted as one of life’s unalterable facts. But, while the grim reaper comes for all of us at some point, the situation when it comes to taxes is not so inevitable as the aphorism implies. Read more
Back in March 2018, the government won kudos for reversing its opposition to tough recycling targets included in the EU’s Circular Economy Package. “I want the UK to lead the way in driving global resource efficiency and that’s why, as well as backing the EU’s Circular Economy Package, we have committed to publishing a new resources and waste strategy in 2018,” then Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said. Read more
Last week, Policy Connect released a report, supported by the cross party Sustainable Resource Forum, looking at waste management and the shift to net zero. It contains several assumptions worth challenging (not least the opening statement that half of England’s waste isn’t recyclable, which is internally contradicted by the statement that the country can recycle 60 per cent of its waste by 2030). But I’ll concentrate here on its main recommendation: that England “should move towards a Scandinavian style approach to residual waste”. Read more
This post was first published by Business Green.
Earlier this year, Green Alliance launched a report called Fixing the system. It highlighted that, in response to considerable public pressure, the government was tackling plastic pollution, but only in a piecemeal fashion. Read more
Over the past few months of upheaval, Covid-19 has succinctly highlighted many shortcomings of what used to pass for the ‘normal’ functioning of economy and society. It’s made many rethink what they value and what they expect the state to value, protect and promote. While it remains unclear what changes will stick and what greater changes are coming down the line, it seems inevitable that the pandemic will permanently alter how we live and how the economy functions. Read more