Eco-tax talk: Simon Upton unwraps the potential, pitfalls, and price tags of enviro solutions

Eco-tax talk: Simon Upton unwraps the potential, pitfalls, and price tags of enviro solutions

Simon Upton is into his second five-year term as the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment and joined REX host Dom George to discuss the challenges and opportunities of environmental management as well as his latest presentation on the topic, Are Environmental Taxes the Perfect Solution that Nobody Wants?

He started by focusing on agricultural emissions, highlighting the sector's 'no additional warming' goal. 

"Even to cause no additional warming, you'd have to reduce emissions from livestock by between 20 and 25% by 2050," he said.

He emphasised the need for a mindset shift and contemplated the potential impact of a technological breakthrough in reducing emissions. Moving on to the issue of wilding pines, Upton pointed out the need for long-term commitment and the responsibility of those contributing to the problem. 

He also noted the lack of quality information and the importance of smart decision-making to avoid overspending. 

"Whether it's climate change, whether it's wilding conifers, whether it's water cleanup, it will be costly. 

"Do not expect the future to be cheaper than the past." 

Upton underscored the role of environmental taxes in changing behaviour and influencing investments. 

However, he cautioned against the idea that taxes alone can drive change.

"The case for environmental taxes can be oversold. There's all sorts of behaviours which don't seem to respond to prices." 

Upton called for a realistic view of environmental management, reminding listeners that environmental stewardship comes with costs, and everyone has a part to play in bearing them. 

He also shared his experiences as an independent watchdog, the challenges of his role, and the importance of having good quality information for smart decision-making. 

Listen to the full chat between Simon Upton and Dominic George above.

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