Economic environmental policy instruments
Finland, like other Nordic countries, has largely based its environmental policy on administrative regulations, site-based emission permits and mandatory reporting systems. In the beginning of the 1990s, however, a number of economic instruments were introduced for environmental purposes. Since then emphasis in taxation has gradually been shifted from taxation of labour to taxation of the use of natural resources and of activities polluting the environment.
Most important taxes with environmental components are tax on waste, car tax and excise duty on fossil fuels and electricity.
Finland's energy taxation system
The present energy tax system consists of duties on traffic fuels and heating fuels, and on electricity. The fuel duty is divided into energy component and CO2 component. The energy component of liquid fuels is largely based on energy content but differentiated according to local emissions. The CO2 component (introduced originally in January 1990) is based on a life-cycle approach to CO2 emissions.
The CO2 tax rate is as of 1.1.2012 € 60 (traffic) or € 30 (heating) per tonne of CO2.
Since 1997, no taxes on fuels for electricity production have been applied. Instead, there is an output tax on electricity, which falls into two classes: a lower rate for industry and greenhouse cultivation and a higher rate for e.g. households and the service sector. To improve the competitiveness of renewable energy sources and to partly compensate for the tax, subsidies are granted to electricity produced by e.g. wind, small-scale hydropower and recycled fuels.
Economic instruments for water pollution control
Municipalities have the primary responsibility for water supply and sanitation in urban areas. These services are financed by charges collected from the users. Water and waste water tariffs are decided by each municipality. In addition to volume charges, there are fixed components, e.g. a connection charge designed to cover the investment costs by the municipality in water service management. Industry often abstracts its water directly from surface water or groundwater sources, and is also responsible for the treatment of its own waste waters.
Municipal water charges are based on a "full-cost principle". This means that the total cost of providing the water services should be paid by the users. On the whole, this principle applies but for individual water or waste water works the situation may differ to some extent due to state subsidies for water management. In February 2011 the average total price for blocks, including the volume component and fixed components was € 1.51 per cubic metre for water and € 2.28 per cubic metre for waste water.
Economic instruments for waste management
Municipalities are responsible for the collection, treatment and reuse of household waste. Waste service charges are set at levels covering the cost of the service. The average municipal waste charge for mixed waste in 2009 is estimated at € 116 per tonne for treatment plus roughly the same for collection.
The waste tax came into force in 1996. The tax applies to waste deposited in municipal and private landfills. The rate is €40 per tonne from January 20011 (included in the municipal waste charge figure above).
Waste-related taxes are also imposed on drinks packages as well as on lubricating oils.
For more information
Mr. Magnus Cederlöf, Senior Technical Adviser, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org [magnus.cederlof]