On March 30 I posted some links to articles which discussed the advantages and disadvantages of carbon taxes and carbon markets in reaching emissions targets. Here is an editorial comment from The Financial Times of London, arguing that a carbon tax is the better way to go. As would be expected with this source, there is a pro-business slant to this argument, in that the certainty provided by taxes is simpler to work with. The editorial also points out that as currently constituted carbon markets are open to scams, whereas taxes are much less so–it references some research that the FT have recently carried out on this matter. The editorial concludes by pointing out that the damaging impacts of both taxes and markets on the poorer sections of society can be lessened by appropriate fiscal and policy measures.
Report from The Financial Times link here.
The Russian company Gazprom, one of the largest energy companies in the world, is developing an innovative sustainability approach to its products. It is offering bundled packages of natural gas and offsetting carbon credits. It has procured these credits by investing in a Brazilian biomass power plant, Propower do Brazil. Because the plant burns renewable fuels it is accounted as carbon neutral. The resulting carbon credits are then available to Gazprom to sell in its bundled offerings. As a carbon offset method, the approach offers some advantages. It is yet to be seen, however, whether it contributes to the actual reduction of carbon emissions.
Report from ‘The New York Times’ link here.
China’s national inquiry into climate change issued its report yesterday, and the results were not encouraging. While identifying clear risks to the country from climate change–including desertification, flooding, coastal inundation from sea-level rises, diseases, and so on–the report was unwilling to risk economic development in order to deal with climate change. Although China has signed the Kyoto Protocol, its emissions are uncapped. It claims that developed nations who have created the present climate threat through past emissions should bear most of the cost of remedying it. This is a legitimate position, but China’s position as a coming leader in global emissions must be addressed as well. So far there seems to be limited interest in meeting that responsibility.
Report from ‘The Age’ link here.
The Australian Tax Office is coming under pressure to clarify the tax treatment of carbon emissions. It is being pointed out that emissions trading, now see as inevitable in Australia, will create new classes of assets and liabilities, and that there is no provision under the existing tax law for their treatment. Moreover, these issues are not future issues: they are already demanding clarification, as a result of the voluntary trading market in emissions, which companies are using to position themselves for the introduction of the regulated market.
Report from ‘The Age’ link here.
This is the text of a presentation I gave to the research seminar of an Australian university. In it I outline the historical development of social thinking in the European Union, embedded in its Social Charter. The implications for business of the Social Charter are profound, bearing on employment and labour and the idea of the corporation as a social institution. I argue that this development is something quite special and valuable in the modern era, and quite different from the way in which employment has been understood in the UK, the US and Australia. I further argue that it points towards the way in which business has to be structured, if it is to be truly productive, ethical and sustainable.
Download the text of my presentation: The EU Social Charter and Business