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2016 March 10

WBA urges for carbon taxes now to meet climate targets

The best strategy to strengthen the position of renewables now is the introduction and – where they already exist – the increase of carbon taxes.

Download the press release here (PDFDOC).

WBA addresses governments all over the world: stop subsidies for fossil fuels, introduce and increase carbon taxes to move towards a fossil fuel free economy by 2050. Fortunately, a few governments have taken the right steps: France initiated and has plans to increase the carbon tax, Portugal carbon tax went into effect in 2015, South Africa published a policy paper on introduction on carbon tax, Ireland already has a carbon tax of 20 Euros per tonne CO2 and India recently doubled its tax on coal while reducing fossil fuel subsidies. Sweden has been implementing carbon taxation since 1991. All governments should follow these examples.

During the climate summit in Paris (COP21), the global community set new ambitious targets to fight climate change. Yet, low oil prices may drive the development in the opposite direction. They hinder the deployment of renewables, especially in the transport and heating sector. Low oil prices entice consumers to invest in fossil heating systems, buy larger cars, block capital in fossil energy systems for years and waste energy. This will endanger global efforts against climate change!

But there are ways to stop these negative trends. WBA President Dr Heinz Kopetz says: “The best strategy to strengthen the position of renewables now is the introduction and – where they already exist – the increase of carbon taxes. Carbon taxes include all sectors of society and not only large emissions sources, as this is the case with the emission-trading scheme. This gives clear signals to consumers to invest in renewables and not in fossil structures.

The tax will make it more profitable to use fossil fuels efficiently or to abstain from using fossil fuels altogether. The level of the carbon tax should be in direct relation to the emissions of carbon dioxide from the different fossil fuels. 

Bioenergy does not pay carbon tax, as the carbon dioxide released during the combustion of biomass and biofuels is equivalent to the carbon dioxide uptake by the plants via photosynthesis. If bioenergy is produced with the inputs of fossil fuels, these inputs will be taxed according to the normal carbon tax, and they will automatically be included in the cost of producing bioenergy. In this way, calculations of carbon balances for biomass for energy will not be necessary, and there will be an economic incentive to produce biomass in a climate efficient way. 

Without (new) carbon taxes now, the transition to renewable energy sources will be delayed, precious time will be lost and CO2 emissions will not decline. The time span left to reduce CO2 emissions is short. If the trends point towards more fossil fuels, powered by low oil and gas prices, the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere will further increase and the targets of COP21 in Paris will become unachievable. Therefore, it is urgent to introduce carbon taxes now!

WBA has been advocating for carbon taxes in the recent past through various initiatives. For more information:
  • WBA and Svebio paper on carbon tax (Link)
  • WBA call to COP21 (Link)
  • Declaration signed by 30 biofuel industry leaders to COP21 delegates (Link)
  • WBA press conference at COP21 (Link)
Download the press release here (PDF,  DOC

For more information, please contact: 
Heinz Kopetz, President WBA, +436506806988,
Karin Haara, Executive Director WBA, +46705432641,
Bharadwaj V Kummamuru, Project Officer WBA, +46767159785