Tag Archive | GHG emissions

Carbon tax offsets on the way

Tax offsets plan almost ready for Parliament

sent to clients 12 Aug     Only a little reminding is needed that 29 July 2016 was the deadline for comments to carbontax1Treasury on the forthcoming carbon tax offsets plan which Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, has promised will come into effect 1 April 2017 with some saying it might even be as early as 1 Jan 2017.

It was in 2014 that National Treasury published the first carbon tax discussion paper for public comment. It was agreed the that such a tax would be phased in over a period of time, the first phase running up to 2020. The marginal rate was the envisaged at R120 per tonne of CO2 and during phase-one, a basic percentage based threshold of 60% will apply for tax offsets below which tax is not payable in order to assist with transition into the new scheme.

SARS as usual

Everything has been based on South Africa’s commitment to the Copenhagen agreement signed in 2009 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 34% by 2020 and 42% by 2025 – below the “business as usual” scenario.   The motivation provided for the tax remains as “so the cost of climate change an be reflected in the price of goods and services”.

sanedi carbon capIt was agreed that the tax would be administered by SARS.    Since that date, whilst the pro and cons of such a tax caused heated debate in some circles as to whether an introduction of a price mechanism could influence consumer and producer behaviour, the inclusion of Eskom in the tax net left many feeling somewhat helpless due to the utility’s enormity.

Eskom maybe dictates

OUTA complained that “Eskom’s various electricity tariff increases of almost three times the rate of consumer price inflation over the past eight years has become a tax of its own on society.”

They added that the electricity increase impact had resulted in fact to a reduction in electricity and energy as a result and this, which coupled with reduced production and consumption, had inadvertently caused a reduction of greenhouses gases having already taken place, OUTA said.   Of course, this remains totally unproven.

Neither Cabinet nor Treasury/SARS have replied to OUTA’s call to note “unintended consequences”.  No Treasury official it appears has felt that the Copenhagen Agreement can be dis-respected and have presumably felt that OUTA’s platform that a drop in national growth, due to global events and construction problems, has had little to do with the actual design of an overall process to cut carbon emissions over the next period of fifty years or so. The argument continues.

Quantifiable is the word

Now the first phase of the tax offsets are being set in concrete with Treasury having called for comment on theemissions final formula for the first phase of tax proposals, proposing, as before in the draft, that companies can reduce their liability for carbon tax by up to 5% or 10% of their total greenhouse gas emissions, depending on their sector, by investing in qualifying projects that result in quantifiable greenhouse-gas reductions.

Treasury says that the qualifying investments and offsets are likely to be in sectors such as agriculture, public transport, forestry or waste management and the accompanying documents note…“The proposal to use carbon offsets in conjunction with the carbon tax has been widely supported by stakeholders as a cost-effective measure to incentivise GHG emission reductions.”

How not to pay tax….offsets

“Carbon offsets involve specific projects or activities that reduce, avoid, or sequester emissions, and are developed and evaluated under specific methodologies and standards, which enable the issuance of carbon credits”, SARS concludes.

It is worth noting that tax legislation usually comes in the form of a “money” Bill which Parliament can debate butgreen scorpion not amend. Should the debate raise issues, then Parliament can address Treasury who will, according to their dictates, reconsider and change if they alone see fit.  

The general feeling seemed to be from hearings was that this event had to happen in line with other established economies, although OUTA has remained strong on its views that Eskom as a major player in the energy mix is distorting the situation.

The Treasury website has all the details of rules on which tax regulations will be based.
Previous articles on category subject
Treasury’s plan for carbon tax – ParlyReportSA
Carbon offsets paper still open – ParlyReportSA
Carbon Tax under attack from Eskom, Sasol, EIUG – ParlyReportSA
Treasury sticks to its guns on carbon tax – ParlyReportSA

Posted in Energy, Enviro,Water, Finance, economic, Fuel,oil,renewables, Mining, beneficiation, Special Recent Posts, Trade & Industry0 Comments

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

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