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Media Release

embargo 00.01 hrs Wednesday 14 November 2007

NEW EXPERT BODY SEEKS TO BREAK LOGJAM ON GREEN FISCAL REFORM

A new independent expert Commission, The Green Fiscal Commission, is launched today. The Green Fiscal Commission has been formed to break the political logjam on green fiscal reform (1). Polling, carried out by BMRB and released today, shows 72 per cent of the public support the establishment of such a body, with an even higher proportion, 77 per cent, indicating support for the kind of tax shift that would be a central element of green fiscal reform. However, support diminishes markedly for the individual taxes that would need to be elements of such a shift.(2)

The Commission membership includes experts from business, leading academics, senior MPs from all three main UK political parties, three members of the House of Lords, and representatives from consumer and environmental organisations. It will be chaired by Robert Napier, Chairman of the Met Office and former Chief Executive of WWF. Its Director is Professor Paul Ekins, Head of the Environment Group at the Policy Studies Institute, and shortly to become Professor of Energy and Environment Policy at King’s College London (3).

“Most policy experts believe that the fiscal system has a vital role to play in the face of rising greenhouse gas emissions,” said Robert Napier. “Sending the right signals for businesses and households to conserve energy and to create and use more energy-efficient products is vital. Our polling shows clearly that people support green taxes in general, but when the revenues go to improve the environment further, or to reduce other taxes, they become even more supportive.”

Professor Paul Ekins, Director of the new Commission, said: “The balance of evidence suggests that green fiscal reform can be positive for both the environment and the economy. The Commission will take special care to explore the impacts of changing the tax base on both business competitiveness and low-income households and show how its overall effects can be made even more positive. Green fiscal reform is essential to counter climate change. When the Commission has finished its work, politicians and policy makers will have a serious and well thought-through set of proposals for fair and balanced reform, to choose from and implement in their own way.”

ENDS

Notes for Editors:

(1) Green Fiscal Reform involves shifting taxes from ‘goods’ like labour or profits which are cut, to taxes on ‘bads’ like pollution or the depletion of resources which are increased. It does not involve an overall increase in taxation or public expenditure.
(2) A national face-to-face opinion poll was conducted for the Green Fiscal Commission by the British Market Research Bureau (BMRB) between 30 August and 5 September 2007. 1,010 British adults aged 15 and over were interviewed.
(3) The full membership list of the Commission is available on this website.
(4) The Secretariat of the Green Fiscal Commission is provided by the Policy Studies Institute, one of the UK’s leading independent research institutes. The Commission’s major funder is the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, one of the largest independent grantmaking foundations in the UK with the Ashden Trust also contributing.
(5) For headline findings of the BMRB survey see Annex 1 of Press Release PDF file below.

GFC Press Release - pdf file
(embargo 00.01 hrs Wednesday 14 November 2007)