The new Special Council was created following the successful conference for Energy, that was co-organized, on the 28th of January of 2020, as an extension of the activities of ELLET concerning climate change and especially the European Programme for Greece’s Adaptation to Climate Change, in which ELLET is a Partner and MEEN is the coordinating entity. Before the foundation of SENFOM, the environmental tax reform was a matter handled by the Special Council of Institutional Framework (STHEP).
The Special Council is assessing the strategy that is employed for the energy and the climate, as well as the tools used for its implementation. The fixed positions of the Council are the following:
- The necessity of strict criteria for the prioritization of licensing Renewable Energy Sources (RES)
- The assessment of all forms of Renewable Energy Sources (RES) and the choice of the optimal solution for each region considered.
- The selection of an appropriate location of the respective facilities, with primary focus on the protection and respect of the natural environment, the biodiversity and the cultural heritage.
- The introduction of environmental taxes with a two-fold goal: a) the shift of the consumer behavior, towards more environmentally friendly behavior and, b) the income from the environmental tax to be used towards balancing the loss of income from the reduction of the cost of labor, which could arise from the reduction of the taxation of the latter, as well as the reducing of its burden from social security contributions
Our development prospects are deeply linked to a sustainable energy transformation. The energy growth model to date has been centralized, with energy demand satisfied by fossil fuels. This model’s main goal was precisely to meet the demand for energy products, but ignored the social costs and the environmental impact.
However, firstly, climate change and secondly, the pandemic, also raised structural distortions of the productive model, such as the economy – energy – natural resources relations.
The pessimistic prospects are that the recovery measures will continue to support this model of development, with short-term goals, without the structural changes necessary for the sustainability of both the Greek society and the Greek economy. This pessimistic narrative predicts a rush to grow at any cost and a non-prioritising accumulation of proposals, simply to “fill in” the national plan for the Recovery Fund.
The optimistic prospect is that the new funding package agreed in Europe to recover from the pandemic could be a unique opportunity to change direction, changing the country’s prospects. That could be achieved through a new social contract, in order to lead our economy on a sustainable path. This social contract in the critical energy sector will reinforce energy democracy, the cooperation of local communities and investors in RES and will aim to make the production and consumption of clean energy a matter for all citizens and not just for a few large companies.
From our side, we will work for the an optimistic prospect. In other words, we aim to use the setback from the pandemic crisis in favour of the acceleration of the necessary transformations, towards a sustainable and climate protection model of development.
Environmental Tax Reform
Since 2002, ELLINIKI ETAIRIA –Society for the Environment and Cultural Heritage (ELLET) proposes the implementation of the Environmental Tax Reform in our country as well. The Environmental Tax Reform is being successfully implemented in about half of the EU countries, aiming at the radical transformation of the socio-economic model into a more environmentally friendly one.
ELLET estimates that the environmental taxation, or “green taxes” as it is commonly named, is one of the most effective tools for environmental protection. This is due to the green taxes levied on activities that consume natural resources or produce pollutants.
Fiscally, Environmental Tax Reform does not increase the overall tax burden because its basic principle is tax neutrality. In other words, it keeps unchanged the total burden of taxation on society as a whole, shifting part of this burden from human labor to productive activities that harm the environment. Thus, the external environmental cost of aggravating activities is assessed – something that to date has neither been valued nor taxed – making the tax system fairer for future generations.