Friday, May 25, 2012

Corporate Sustainability Experts Want a Tax on GHGs

Corporate sustainability experts indicate that a tax on greenhouse gases (GHGs) is the best way to combat climate change. These experts want to change the economics of energy, they see government involvement as crucial to create the right incentives and disincentives to reduce emissions. Twice as many of these experts believe that economic instruments work better than education to auger meaningful change.

May 9, 2012 article by Jeff Erikson reviews a survey by SustainAbility and GlobeScan that asked more than 800 sustainability experts and practitioners located in more than 70 countries about their views on climate change policy. They asked respondents to rank the effectiveness of various approaches to address climate change. These approaches include, economic instruments, regulatory approaches and technology development.

According to the experts polled in the survey, behavior change demands more than a better understanding of the effects of global warming. These experts agree that pricing carbon is the best way to create real, lasting, widespread change. The survey indicated that to make the changes required we need to use a combination of economic instruments, regulatory approaches and technological innovation.

Corporate respondents indicated a marked preference for technological solutions on climate change, they also see comparative value in regulatory approaches and economic instruments.

The economic instrument that is perceived as most effective in providing global solutions to climate change is a tax on GHGs. What was most surprising was the fact that emissions trading schemes are seen as the least effective economic instrument (in a similar 2006 survey the took second place).

In summary experts believe that the best way to tackle climate change is to increase the cost of emitting GHGs,and change the economics of energy. Essentially the idea is to make GHGs expensive and provide incentives to reduce emissions. The experts surveyed said that governments should use taxes, tax credits, rebates, and support technology development.

Even in the absence of government action on the environment, the business community has an important role to play. Companies who understand the implications of climate change need to lead and share their leadership with other businesses and the general population. Businesses have a vested interest because anyone with even a cursory understanding of the issues knows that there is no business on a dead planet.

© 2012, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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