Tag Archive | cecil morden

Treasury’s plan for carbon tax

Morden’s thinking on carbon tax….

cecil mordenBearing in mind Cabinet has not agreed to a carbon tax at this stage, Cecil Morden, National Treasury, explained to the portfolio committee on environmental affairs that the carbon tax as currently proposed could reduce South Africa’s GHG emissions by between 35% and 45% by 2035.

It had to be noted, he said, that SA was in the top 20 in absolute global emissions.

Looking back, Cecil Morden said carbon tax policy proposals began with the Environmental Fiscal Reform Policy Paper in 2006, a Carbon Tax Discussion Paper in 2010 followed by a Carbon Tax Policy Paper 2013, a Carbon Offsets Paper in 2014 and now the current legislative drafting process.

The anticipated carbon tax implementation date, Cecil Morden said, was still mid-2016.

Balancing the books as well

The problem now was with South Africa joining with others COP15 in 2009 with a commitment to curbemissionsgraphic GHG emissions by 34% by 2020 and by 42% by 2025, the question was now of how to reduce the need for higher levels of growth and the energy and carbon intensive nature of the SA economy against the world commitment to reduce GHG emissions.

Cecil Morden told parliamentarians that there was always a concern that climate change could slow or possibly even reserve progress on poverty eradication based on the fact that most developing countries were more dependent on agriculture and other climate-sensitive natural resources for income and quality of life.

In addition, developing countries usually lacked sufficient financial and technical capacities to manage climate change, particularly in Africa and South Asia. Both of these continents seeing more substantial increases in poverty relative to a baseline without climate change, yet the cost of which would still fall disproportionately on the poor.

Done by offsets

carbontax1The rationale behind carbon tax was a means, Cecil Morden said, by which government can intervene by attempting to level the playing field between carbon intensive, fossil fuel based firms and low carbon emitting sectors using renewable energy and energy efficient technologies using a carbon offsets scheme.

In referring to the several carbon tax modelling schemes that had been produced and results of studies, the model proposed could reduce GHG emissions by between 35% and 45% by 2035, the study to be made public by the end of July 2015.

The major concerns at the moment and noted by Treasury were the impact of higher electricity prices on low income households and on the international competitiveness of exports in the world market.

Killing the cat

“The choice”, Morden noted, “had been between command and control measures, in other words byemissions regulation or by market based instruments. In other words by regulations that used legislation or administrative measures that proscribed certain outcomes usually targeting outputs or quantitative factors such as minimum ambient air quality measurements.

The second option of policy instruments that attempt to internalise environmental externalities through the market by altering relative prices that consumers and firms face.”

“Although this second option”, Morden said, “ does not set a fixed quantitative limit to carbon emission over the short term, a carbon tax at the appropriate level and phased in over time to the correct level will provide a strong price signal to both producers and consumers to change their behaviour over the medium to long term.”

He concluded that an introduction of a carbon price will change relative prices of goods and services, making emission intensive goods more expensive relative to those that are less emission intensive”.

Behavioural changes

Africa MoneyCecil Morden said that Treasury saw this as a powerful incentive for consumers and businesses to adjust their behaviour, resulting in a reduction of emissions.

MPs expressed concern that carbon offsets could be manipulated so they had to be related to actual reductions of emissions on paper, Morden replying that in terms of off-sets, there were going to be “quite rigorous requirements for how it should be monitored and Treasury would work closely with the DEA and DoE in this regard.”

Carbon thresholds the hope

In the discussions that followed Cecil Morden further noted that a carbon budget system was an evolving mechanism using information from companies to inform the budget. After a number of years, he said, the relative thresholds could be captured into absolute thresholds. The other possibility was to move towards an emission trading scheme and use the carbon budget just as an indicative monitoring tool, rather than as an instrument of penalty.

He then explained the use of border tax adjustments to try to level the playing field on imports. What ever happened, however, he promised, the entire matter would come before Parliament before South Africa participated in COP21.

Other articles in this category or as background
Carbon Tax under attack from Eskom, Sasol, EIUG – ParlyReportSA
Treasury sticks to its guns on carbon tax – ParlyReportSA
Minister Gigaba to line up Eskom for carbon tax – ParlyReportSA
Carbon tax not popularly received by Parliament – ParlyReportSA
Gordhan gives out strong message on carbon tax – ParlyReportSA
WWF warns that carbon tax must come to SA – ParlyReportSA

Posted in Enviro,Water, Facebook and Twitter, Finance, economic, Fuel,oil,renewables, LinkedIn, Special Recent Posts, Trade & Industry0 Comments

Carbon Tax under attack from Eskom, Sasol, EIUG

Treasury determined on carbon tax…..

clampInsofar as the policy behind the need to implement a carbon tax, for whatever reason,  there appears to a vast disconnect between cabinet and the various affected government departments, treasury and energy users, said Mike Roussow, head of the Energy Intensive Users Group (EIUG).

This main point arose in a discussion group called together by chair, Sisa Njikelana, of the parliamentary portfolio committee of energy in an attempt to find some common group on the need for such a tax.    He had invited the various parties for a round-table discussion on the subject in order to put their views.

Major run in

Present at the meeting were such major players such as Eskom, Exxaro, BHP Billiton, the South African Petroleum Industry Association (SAPIA), the pulp and paper industry and Sasol.      Treasury was represented by treasury directors Ismael Mamoniat and Cecil Morden.

However, with only members of the portfolio committee on energy present but no representatives of department of energy (DoE), department of water and  environmental affairs (DWEA) or department of agriculture and fisheries (DAFF), nor any other portfolio committees such as trade and industry or environmental affairs, the discussions had little depth, said Rossouw.

Little by little says treasury

Treasury added to the discussion by stating that the point of departure was the White Paper on Climate Change and this was the basis for the tax proposals before them. The object was to change behaviour but unlike smoking legislation, such a tax would be introduced at a very low level so that energy users with emissions got used to the idea, thus giving a longer period to adjust, bearing in mind the costs of doing so.

“The worst scenario would be to wait and to introduce a sudden and crippling tax in years ahead” said Mamoniat.    The treasury officials referred to shale gas and sea gas possibilities, recognizing that these  may change the energy mix or the energy scenario, and treasury officials noted that whilst business did not like taxes and would object to their introduction on principle, a system had to be started and once going this would change behaviour.

Why be first, says business

Much of the debate centered around the fact that South Africa, with its slow rate of economic growth, business was not in a position to contribute to being a world leader, least of all being amongst the first to introduce such a tax globally.     “Perhaps we should not be leaders, but simply fast followers”, said one party to the debate who objected to the tax.

Eskom said it was saving most of its comments for the official responses to the carbon tax policy proposals recently gazetted but said that every unit it had was running at full capacity during the winter period and the cold weather currently being experienced, all effort being expended to accommodate the integrated resource plan (IRP), the anchor document for energy direction “to which the carbon tax proposals makes not one reference”, they complained.

Ducks not in a row, says Eskom

The Eskom team presenting, headed by Ms Caroline Henry, acting finance director, was pointed when said it was totally premature to introduce such a tax especiallywhen DWAE and DOE were still working on producing an integrated energy plan for the country.      The treasury proposals, she said, represented bad timing in every respect, bearing in mind that President Zuma had already announced that the country had no intention in changing its investment conditions or the economic scenario with any new conditions.     Such proposals were totally inappropriate therefore at this time, Eskom said.

Eskom added that the IRP already came up with a 34% savings factor on emissions but what was not needed at this stage, they concluded, were additional costs and further taxes added to a plan they had been working to for a long time.   Mamoniat appeared unmoved by this objection.

Sasol firm in objections

Sasol volunteered the remark that to introduce a carbon tax fully knowing that the country was totally reliant on coal gave the impression that they were out of touch with reality. They pointed to the fact that cost of the country’s exports were mainly energy intensive resulting in South Africa loosing competitiveness, if this course were adopted.

Sasol agreed that a carbon tax was one of many tools that could be used in causing industry to further mitigate the effect of carbon emissions but its introduction now was premature, they said. The costs to Sasol would be prohibitive in any case when applied to certain operations.

“We should not introduce a tool that can make no difference to a situation”, said the Sasol representative, who added, “Asking not to introduce a tax is not to say we are doing nothing.  Plenty is being done in mitigation of emissions. This country is one of the leaders carbon reduction programmes worldwide”, they added.

Liquid fuels industry over committed

SAPIA called for a practical approach and asked what really the industry could do that was not already being done. Already the petroleum industry was over-committed to modernisation and new fuel specifications.    The current world oil importation story placed the industry in a delicate position, as treasury must have surely realized, they said.

Quite clearly in the petroleum industry, said SAPIA, there is no satisfactory return on investment and the only sensible recourse in their mind was to provide conditions where the motorist was called upon to reduce consumption.

EIUG queries common approach

EIUG repeated their initial supposition that there appeared no joint departmental overall government approach to such a tax which appeared to be the brainchild of treasury, possibly in conjunctions with DWEA. They said that it appeared that neither appreciated how much was already done and what was being planned in terms of the climate response policy calls, both globally and locally.

“We cannot and should not be the world leaders in the introduction of carbon tax”, they said. “Aside from this, there are many things wrong with the way the tax is constructed.”

Eskom queries basis of tax

Eskom concluded that it was disingenuous of treasury department to suggest that nobody was doing anything answer to reduce emissions.  In any case, the tax was not being introduced at a low rate, they said and Eskom produced figures showing the tax as suggested when applied to current production output numbers which they said would be quite crippling. They added that the effects of the tax on the Medupi and Kusile power station projects when in production totally contradicted treasury calculations on the same subject.

The discourse was closed by the chair on the note that carbon tax as a proposal could not proceed in a vacuum and he acknowledged the point that it seemed reasonable not to consider this before the production of the final integrated energy plan had been tabled and agreed upon, let alone agreement on the final energy mix involving nuclear, gas and clean energy renewables.

Treasury appears dedicated to tax

Parliament is now empowered to deal with a Money Bill as a result of the 2011 amendments to the Constitution should the carbon tax policy paper result in a draft Bill for public comment but it could be considered unusual in these early stages of parliamentary development on the issue to exercise such muscle and the matter no doubt depends on what message comes down from cabinet to party whips. The Bill would come from the Minister of Finance.

Refer previous articles in this category
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//cabinetpresidential/treasury-sticks-to-its-guns-on-carbon-tax/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//cabinetpresidential/carbon-tax-not-popularly-received-by-parliament/

 

Posted in Cabinet,Presidential, Electricity, Enviro,Water, Finance, economic, Fuel,oil,renewables, Health, Trade & Industry0 Comments

Treasury sticks to its guns on carbon tax

2015, only if implementable….

nattreasury logoNational Treasury is still planning to introduce a carbon tax on January 1, 2015, but chief director for economic and tax analysis, Cecil Morden, told business that government will only move ahead when it is satisfied implementation possibilities.

In Parliament, when asked by members of the finance standing committee if this was “yet another revenue tool”, he said the primary objective of implementing carbon taxes was to change future behaviour before it was too late.

Doing our own thing

“The clock is ticking”, said Morden.   He asked parliamentarians not to diminish South Africa’s role as a potential leader on the issue with carbon tax. “The USA is paralysed and if we do nothing because China and the USA does nothing, we would have lost the opportunity to start at a lower level, do things slowly and sensibly, with marginal steps towards inevitable change.”

Confronted at a National Business Initiative meeting in Johannesburg calling for more information on the tax and answering further queries as to such a tax was necessary at this stage of South Africa’s development, Morden said that more clarity would be provided in the draft legislation.

At the moment a policy document on the tax has been published by Treasury for public comment.

Phasing in

The tax is proposed at a rate of R120/t of carbon dioxide equivalent, increasing at 10% a year during the first phase, from 2015 to 2019 and the legislation, of which a draft has yet to be published as a result of the current public comment period. This would give the detail, Morden said. It would describe the tax-free thresholds for each sector and possible offset structures.

Morden acknowledged that there might still be gaps, but encouraged stakeholders to highlight these in their written responses and to make proposals on how these could be filled.

We’re not tax collectors

Again he denied, as he did to opposition members in Parliament, that the carbon tax was nothing more than a revenue-generation exercise and disagreed flatly with the argument that such tax proposals were not a priority in the context of the country’s other socio-economic, skills and infrastructure problems.

Morden countered his Johannesburg questioners in the same manner as he did in Parliament on to why the tax was necessary; saying, “We do not have to have a carbon tax to raise revenue as suggested and the gradual introduction of a carbon tax should been seen as a contribution to the international agreements on climate response that South Africa has already agreed to and the consequent necessity to reduce South Africa’s greenhouse-gas emissions.

Tax to be fed back somehow

The National Treasury would not, however, entertain “hard” earmarking or ring fencing of the revenue accumulated but would consider other recycling mechanisms, including “soft” earmarks in future Budget undertakings; reducing other taxes and levies; and the introduction of new incentive schemes.

More background articles on subject
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//energy/gigaba-to-line-up-eskom-for-carbon-tax/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//cabinetpresidential/carbon-tax-not-popularly-received-by-parliament/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//energy/parliament-briefed-on-new-climate-response-policy/

Posted in Cabinet,Presidential, Energy, Enviro,Water, Finance, economic, Health, Mining, beneficiation, Public utilities, Special Recent Posts, Trade & Industry0 Comments

Minister Gigaba to line up Eskom for carbon tax

SOE’s in for carbon tax on climate response….

Public enterprises minister Malusi Gigaba, without mentioning carbon tax specifically, has launched a climate change policy framework for state-owned enterprises (SOEs) that seeks to align their climate response with the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) on carbon emissions.   South Africa is a signatory to the UNGC and to the ten  UNGC principles which include human rights, labour, climate response and anti-corruption.

Principle seven states that business should support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges; principle eight says the signatory will undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility; and principle nine encourages the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies. Minister Gigaba enumerated these.

The UN’s ten principles we are to follow

The minister said, “The UNGC calls companies everywhere to voluntarily align their operations and strategies with the ten universally accepted principles in areas  which include greenhouse gas emissions”.

The minister’s statement is featured  on SA government’s news site, and quotes the minister as stating , amongst other things, that it was “strategic” for South African business corporations to align their operations with  UNGC and their principles.

In aligning the newly launched policy framework for  state owned enterprises along similar lines, he says government will develop a detailed strategic plan in relation to climate change that includes “green economy considerations in operational decisions”.

The minister referred to four key design principles informing the policy framework, including the need for SOEs to focus on the overlap between commercial, economic, developmental and environmental objectives whilst carefully managing areas where these objectives conflict.

SOEs include…….

It emerged during the debate that certain state-owned enterprises (SOEs) have already endorsed the global compact, which, according to SAnews were, Denel, Transnet, Eskom, SAA, Broadband Infraco, Safcol and SA Express.

This agreement with UNGC appears to be one of the “global agreements which finance minister Pravin Gordhan referred to in his parliamentary budget vote speech when he gave his reasons for proposing a carbon tax, one of these and the main reason being to “change behaviour towards emissions”.     This  is also the keynote point of the recent treasury updated Carbon Tax Policy Paper out for public comment and which follows the much earlier discussion paper of 2010, “Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions: The Carbon Tax Option”.

“Recycling” of carbon tax rather

Minister Pravin Gordhan told parliamentarians recently that the “full earmarking” (or ring fencing) of specific tax revenue streams are not in line with sound fiscal management practices.     However, the efficient recycling of revenue, his deputy Cecil Morden said, was if mechanisms for structural adjustment revising greenhouse gas mitigation (GHG) is to be possible.   Morden said, ” A carbon tax will be introduced as part of a package of interventions to ensure that the primary objective of GHG mitigation is achieved”.

Public enterprises minister Malusi Gigaba’s recent speech therefore presumably means that he has every intention of following the minister of finance’s speech in making Eskom pay carbon tax, or as Cecil Morden said, “mechanisms for structural adjustment revising greenhouse gas mitigation”.

 

Posted in Electricity, Energy, Enviro,Water, Finance, economic, Mining, beneficiation, Public utilities, Trade & Industry0 Comments


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