The 3rd Round Table on Sustainable Development - Report

 

  1. Concerning the first issue debated i.e. Environmental Taxes and Green Tax Reform, the discussion started from six key propositions put on the table as introduction [Environmental taxes should be levied on immobile sources to minimize the probability that polluting activities be transferred abroad ; Positive employment effects from environmental taxes can only follow from changes in income distribution, hence "double dividends" should not be generally expected; Other measures should be used to offset the regressive distributional impact of environmental taxes, in order to win great public support; Subsidies to promote environmentally sound behaviour are generally not efficient and should be used only temporarily; While taxes and permits won't have equivalent effects in dynamic contexts, taxes seem better suited to deal with CO2 emissions ; In the case of energy-taxes, the tax base will remain stable even after their introduction although this may be change in the longer-term with increased availability of renewable sources]. From there, it was noted that policy measures should focus on the elimination of environmentally damaging tax provisions and on pilot use of tradable permits. Besides common initiatives of likeminded countries was encouraged. The RTSD debated on effectiveness of environmental taxes, on subsidies and the need for new technology but also on behavioural effects of environmental taxes for a majority of economic agents. It was required to measure emissions within countries, to analyse economic agents' behaviour in relation to environmental taxes, to identify the industrial sectors more affected by them and to assess the environmental effects of different types of taxes. It was finally reminded that political will is needed to go ahead. 
  2. Concerning the second issue i.e. Business and Climate Change, two main political difficulties limiting progress were stressed: strong lobby pressure on governments from large industrial emitters for blocking abatement measures on one hand and, difficulties in assuring a progressive engagement of developing countries. From this baseline study it was suggested to undertake agreements with some key industrial sector such as steel or cement, and to use Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) to facilitate at best involvement of developing countries. The RTSD think that such proposition could provide a strong signal on the determination to introduce concrete measures. Of course raising R&D for clean energy must be the rule amongst OECD countries in order to give business right incentives. Another idea, which is encouraging regional arrangement in addition to the global agreement, was also discussed. It was finally concluded that even though sectoral and regional responses are important, they must not hamper Kyoto commitments.
  3. Concerning the third and last issue discussed, it was reminded that progress should be done in energy efficiency and in using renewable resources. The RTSD stressed the barriers to greater use of renewable, large differences in access to energy, the lack of a legal and institutional framework within countries for promoting new technologies, and the lack of an international framework for the security of large energy investments. The RTSD at first proposed that OECD should promote a review of R&D spending in OECD countries, with a view to increase share in renewable sources. Likewise OECD is seen as playing a role in upgrading environmental standards for energy investments in developing countries, as most energy investments in these countries are effectively "underwritten" by export credit agencies of OECD countries. It was also proposed to establish some kind of consultative group on new energy to assist developing countries in mobilising technical support, skills and credits, allowing them to recoup the additional costs associated with best technology. Then the RTSD cautioned against the need of specific international agreements for the energy sector. OECD should maintain the technologic push to cleaner energy sources and play a role in launching a consultative process on technology at the international level