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  • Business leaders believe tax policy will play a critical role in fight against climate change
  • Low awareness amongst Irish business of new EU Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism

Tax policy in Ireland and globally is set to be substantially altered by the climate agenda according to KPMG, with tax incentivisation and punitive tax measures to change climate behaviours of both corporates and individuals expected in the near future. The comments were made at a webinar hosted by KPMG examining the link between carbon behaviours and taxation.

Speakers at the webinar, which was attended by over 100 c-suite executives as part of KPMG’s Tax Leadership Series, included Pat Cox, Former President of the European Parliament; Mike Hayes, KPMG’s Global Head of Climate Change and Decarbonisation; Chris Morgan, Head of Global Tax Policy, KPMG International; Warwick Ryan, Excise & Environmental Taxes Centre of Excellence Leader, KPMG Australia and Ethna Kennon, Director, KPMG in Ireland. 

Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM)

Tax changes discussed included the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM), which was recently approved by the European Parliament to take effect from 1 January 2023. Under this mechanism, high carbon goods being imported from third countries into the European Union will face an additional level of taxation in order to avoid what is known as ‘carbon leakage’ –  where cheaper high carbon goods are competing with more expensive low carbon goods in the European Union. The mechanism is predicted to generate €14 billion in revenue in its first year.

Current awareness of CBAM amongst businesses in Ireland appears to be low, with 75% of attendees surveyed during the webinar saying that they had not heard of CBAM before. KPMG believes that this mechanism, which will initially apply to products such as aluminium, steel, fertilizers, cement and heavy chemicals, will be extended to wider products and industries following an initial pilot. KPMG strongly advises businesses to start preparing for the changes, beginning with ensuring businesses have an accurate measure of their carbon footprint across their product range. 

Tax policy as tool to fight climate change

The role of tax policy in driving climate change has been the topic of much debate, but there was consensus amongst those surveyed that tax policy should play some role in driving action on climate change, with none of the view that tax had no role, 51% of the view that tax should play somewhat of a role, and 49% of the view that tax policy should play a significant role in driving action on climate change. KPMG is advocating the view as part of the drumbeat to the next UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties, COP 26, that serious consideration should be given to using tax policy as a tool to fight climate change.

The preferred tax policy measures indicated by those surveyed included the introduction of new tax incentives (37%), carbon taxes (34%) and more support for climate R&D incentives (29%).

Speaking at the webinar Pat Cox, Former President, European Parliament, said: “What we have seen in response to the COVID-19 pandemic - political polarisation, geopolitical diversity, nationalism, scepticism or denial of science – does apply equally to the climate change challenge. But unlike COVID, we have no vaccine for climate change and its impact will be permanent.”

Mike Hayes, Global Climate Change and Decarbonisation Leader, KPMG, added: “The awareness and acceptance of the scale of the climate challenge has never been higher and there is a coming together of corporates, investors and individual citizens to say now is the time to tackle this crisis head on. COP 26, which will be held in Glasgow in November this year, is the opportunity of the decade for real action to be taken.”

Get in touch

The effects of climate change on tax policy will have implications across Irish business. If you have any related queries, contact Mike Hayes of our Sustainable Futures team. We'd be delighted to hear from you.

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