“An environmental tax should serve its purpose, in other words, environmental tax revenues should go towards funding expenditure on improving and protecting the environment.” This is one of the principles that underlies the Naturgy Foundation’s new study, ‘La fiscalidad energética. Sentido, objetivos y criterios’, drawn up by the tax adviser Juan Carpizo and the lawyers Eugenia Montaña and Teresa Checa, who specialise in energy taxes.
When presenting the book, the Chairman of the Naturgy Foundation, Rafael Villaseca, explained it provides data that makes it possible to determine whether the tax revenues are used for their intended purpose. “From the compilation and assessment carried out in the study, it can be deduced these taxes basically serve a collection purpose in our country today,” said Villaseca, adding that “current energy taxation is not always given priority when it comes to solving the environmental problems that gave rise to the tax.”
In the book, the authors say “we cannot find any tax whose priority is to contribute to reducing polluting behaviour or promoting a more efficient use of energy.”
In the study, they insist that “an environmental tax should tax harmful effects on the environment caused by those activities that give rise to them”, based on the general principle of environmental taxation, namely “he who pollutes pays, but that means everyone who pollutes, not just some”. That is the European Union’s view, adopting a principle where the OECD led the way in 1972 in its Recommendation on the ‘Guiding Principles concerning International Economic Aspects of Environmental Policies’.
The book reminds readers that one of the main challenges in relation to EU environmental policy and legislation is “to improve environmental taxation, as well as reduce subsidies that are harmful to the environment” and, in this regard, “environmental taxes are a key piece”. However, in the last decade, different rules and focuses have been adopted on a regional and even a local level.