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Greenpeace is calling on the Government to accept recommendations made by the Tax Working Group about environmental taxation and the capital gains tax.

But the environmental organisation flags gaps in the report that need to be addressed.

“It’s heartening to see substantial proposals for taxing polluters, tackling climate change and protecting water quality. The Government should accept the recommendations for environmental taxation made by the Tax Working Group, and set the tax rates high enough to ensure they result in changes away from polluting industries such as industrial dairying and fossil fuel use.” says Greenpeace NZ executive director Russel Norman.

The report recommends including agriculture in the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and notes that if all free allocations were removed from the ETS it would raise $2.1 billion in revenue per annum. It also recommends taxes on agricultural inputs, such as fertiliser.

“Agriculture should be brought into the ETS immediately and fully. This would not only shift land-use away from highly polluting intensive livestock farming, it would also raise the revenue needed to mitigate and adapt to climate change and clean up the country’s rivers.”

“Damaging agricultural inputs like synthetic nitrogen fertiliser, pesticides, and imported animal feed ultimately need to be banned outright. In the meantime we support a high tax on these to begin transitioning New Zealand’s farms to low-input regenerative practices.”

The report also recommends a comprehensive a capital gains tax that includes agricultural land.

“Not only would a comprehensive capital gains tax improve equity, it will also improve environmental outcomes by removing one of the incentives for agricultural intensification.”

However, Norman says the Tax Working Group misses a trick by not calling for a reversal of favourable tax conditions for the petroleum industry.

“Our Government’s royalty and tax take for petroleum is the fourth lowest in the world. Significantly increasing it is critical to incentivising the shift away from fossil fuels towards renewable energy.”

“Despite increasingly severe warnings that we must wean our society off fossil fuels, this industry continues to enjoy Government subsidies to the tune of up to $88 million a year. The Government must eliminate fossil fuel subsidies and instead support efforts to solarise New Zealand.”

Norman goes on to say that there are key areas that need strengthening in the tax recommendations if New Zealand is to address marine pollution.

“The Tax Working Group identifies that our marine environment is in jeopardy from overfishing and that solid waste such as plastics is a rising problem, but there is a noticeable absence of any tax recommendations to address these issues.”

Greenpeace and allied organisations recommend imposing levies to address marine pollution under the ‘Plastic Free NZ’ plan that uses existing legislation to impose taxes under the Waste Minimisation Act.

“Levies should be applied to plastic packaging to reduce production and consumption, as well as a deposit scheme to incentivise that plastic fishing gear being returned that would otherwise remain at sea, entangling and endangering marine life, or turning into microplastics.”

Ends

Greenpeace NZ’s full submission to the Tax Working Group can be downloaded here