“From a budgetary point of view, too much incentive” green “taxation can end up posing a problem”

The ecological taxation is first supposed to change behavior. But she must also bring back recipes, recalls the journalist of the “World” Audrey Cooper in her column.

The debate is old, but it resurfaced in favor of the crisis of “yellow vests”. In the autumn of 2018, when soaring prices at the pump, coupled with the rise in environmental taxes, triggered the first social crisis in Emmanuel Macron’s mandate, the role to be attributed to the “green” tax system suddenly shifted from rank of expert debate to that of daily stake for the French. How can taxes encourage ecological transition while remaining socially acceptable? And how to avoid that the most modest are the first contributors?

In theory, ecological taxation is primarily supposed to change behavior, not to bring money. By encouraging households to consume differently – switching from a thermal vehicle to an electric model, adopting a more “green” mode of heating – taxes are bound to disappear over time, along with the behaviors on which they are based. .

However, the 2019 budget included a significant increase in the internal consumption tax on energy products (Ticpe), a levy made up of the energy-climate contribution – the former “carbon tax” – and the gradual alignment of diesel taxation with that of the essence. And only 20% of the revenues were actually directed towards the ecological transition (aid for the development of renewable energies), the rest going to the local authorities to finance the apprenticeship or the RSA, as well as, for almost half of the receipts, to the general budget of the state. Logic, according to budget officials, since it is also the state that finances some of the public policies in favor of the environment, from the development of organic agriculture to research on sustainable housing.

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Even before the massive gatherings on the roundabouts and the violence on the Champs-Elysées, this situation had generated a misunderstanding in the opinion. And a reproach against the executive, accused of funding the flagship measures of the beginning of five years (removal of the ISF or the housing tax) by increasing green taxes. 

The call to order of Gérald Darmanin

One year and 17 billion euros of measures “yellow vests” later, the issue of allocation and the role of green taxation is still relevant. On 25 September, a study by the General Finance Inspectorate was presented in Bercy, which was supposed to lay the foundations for a “green budget” for the State – one of the commitments made by the Head of State in December 2017 during the climate summit, the One Planet Summit, in Paris. In fact, the Bercy report focuses on identifying and assessing public revenues and expenditures according to their degree of impact on the environment.

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