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How To Use Carbon Tax To Tackle Green Washing

April 14, 2023

When it imposed a carbon tax, Singapore as usual, did something pioneering (becoming the first SE Asian country to bell that cat), while playing by the book — a carbon tax is arguably the most practical way to share ownership for Nationally Determined Commitments (NDCs) with the corporations responsible for greenhouse gas emissions.

Singapore’s carbon tax applies to all facilities producing 25,000 tonnes or more of greenhouse gas emissions in a year. Also, under this law starting 2024, emitters can buy overseas carbon credits to pay off 5% of their carbon tax. To prevent greenwashing, The National Environmental Agency (NEA) chose reliable voluntary market standards bodies of long standing to provide authorised carbon credits for this scheme. Unfortunately, a slew of reports published early this year pronounced almost 90% of the rainforest carbon credits issued by one of these bodies to be bogus (see here: Fortunately, only non-binding MOUs have been signed and the scheme goes live in 2024, so there’s time to rectify things.

One correction is reducing dependency on overseas carbon credits. We suggest the NEA therefore first have corporations make certified best efforts to reduce their emissions, before being allowed to offset. By investing in energy efficiency instead of straightaway buying offsets, corporations can save on their energy bills, get NEA subsidies for their investment in energy saving projects ( or even earn carbon credits instead of buying them.

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