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Taxing carbon dioxide emissions

Man in gas mask
When carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere (when we burn fossil fuels, for example) the greenhouse effect is intensified. The EU and many of the world’s governments therefore want it to cost companies money to make such emissions.

Despite this desire, in the spring of 2013, the European Parliament nonetheless voted against a temporary freeze on 900 emission allowances for greenhouse gases. 

 

A harmless, hazardous gas

Carbon dioxide is the greenhouse gas that contributes most to increases in the greenhouse effect. Carbon dioxide emissions are primarily caused when we burn what are known as fossil fuels, but also by the fact that we are destroying increasingly large areas of forest. The gas is not hazardous to breathe, but it is often specifically carbon dioxide that functions as a measure of the limit for how much greenhouse gas we can release into the atmosphere. In Sweden, carbon dioxide emissions account for approximately 80 % of the greenhouse gases for which we are responsible. This is a problem because once it has been released into the atmosphere, carbon dioxide affects the climate for a very long time.

 

The costs of fuel

There has been a carbon dioxide charge in Sweden since 1991, and since our entry into the EU in 1995, there has also been a tax on a variety of fuels – liquefied petroleum gas, natural gas, oil, coke, coal and household waste that is burned for heating. The goal of these charges is to attempt to limit how much people add to the greenhouse effect through their use of different types of fuel. In 2005, the EU introduced an emission trading system, which is intended to force companies to invest in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The trading system basically means that companies can buy (and sell) the right to release a certain amount of carbon dioxide.

 

Vote in the European Parliament

On April 16, 2013, the European Parliament voted against a proposal to temporarily freeze 900 emission allowances relating to greenhouse gases. The proposal was intended to force up the prices and thus to get more companies to think in environmentally friendly terms. The rejection of the proposal led to considerable criticism, since many felt that this would act as a brake on the EU’s climate policy. In addition, the rejection of the proposal runs counter to the policy of, among others, the Swedish government. Regret at the result of the vote was even expressed by the EU-Commission. 

Published: Mon, 03/02/2014 - 17:10


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