Climate change has become a grave challenge to our planet as warming earth disturbs weather, people, animals, vegetation and much more.
Climate change is already having a significant impact on ecosystems, economies and communities.
We see climate change everywhere – in weather patterns, across farmland and throughout plant and animal habitats.
Rising average temperatures do not simply mean balmier winters. Some regions are experiencing extreme heat, while others are cooling significantly.
Flooding, drought, intense summer heat and biting cold during winter are a result of this. Violent storms and other extreme weather events could occur from the increased energy stored in our warming atmosphere.
Yet, as a recent OECD report highlights, efforts made are simply not enough to reduce energy use, improve energy efficiency and drive a shift toward low-carbon sources.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development opines that almost all taxes are too low to help combat global warming, compared to a benchmark level of €30 per tonne of carbon dioxide (CO2) – a conservative minimum estimate of the damage from emitting one tonne of CO2.
The report ‘Taxing Energy Use 2018’ describes patterns of energy taxation in some 42 OECD and G20 countries (representing approximately 80% of global energy use), by fuels and sectors over the 2012-2015 period.
New data shows that energy taxes remain poorly aligned with the negative side effects of energy use. Taxes provide only limited incentives to reduce energy use, improve energy efficiency and drive a shift towards less harmful forms of energy.
“Comparing taxes between 2012 and 2015 yields a disconcerting result,” said OECD secretary-general Angel Gurria. “Efforts have been made, or are underway, in several jurisdictions to apply the ‘polluter-pays’ principle, but on the whole progress towards the more effective use of taxes to cut harmful emissions is slow and piecemeal. Governments should do more and better.”
In 2015, outside of road transport, 81% of emissions were untaxed, according to the report. Meaningful tax rate increases seem to have largely been limited to the road sector.
Encouragingly, some countries are removing lower tax rates on diesel compared to gasoline. Some governments have started to raise diesel fuel taxes amid pressure to improve air quality in major cities.
However, fuel tax rates remain well below the levels needed to cover non-climate external costs in many countries.
Coal, characterised by high levels of harmful emissions, is taxed at the lowest rates or fully untaxed in almost all countries.
While the intense debate on carbon taxation has sparked action in some countries, actual carbon tax rates remain low.
Climate change threatens the health of our children through widespread diseases, freshwater shortages, worsened smog and much more.
These also pose incalculable economic risks that far outweigh the economic risks of taking action today.
Scientists say that to prevent dangerous levels of global warming governments should act to limit warming to less than 2C by taking concerted action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The sooner we act to reduce greenhouse gases, the less severe impacts will be. Now is the time to implement worthwhile solutions.
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