Sunday, September 27, 2015

Global Conference on Environmental Taxation - Outside the Tax Box

Dr. Anna Poelina
The 16th Global Conference on Environmental Taxation brought tax and environmental law experts from twenty-three countries to discuss the use tax and other market-based instruments to manage natural resources and address environmental concerns throughout the world. GCET is "the leading global forum for exchanges on the principles and practices of environmental taxation and other market-based instruments relevant for greening of the economy and a more sustainable development." The conference drew leaders from the following sectors, industries, fields and occupations:
  • tax and accounting, such as Chas Roy-Chowdhury, Head of Taxation, ACCA
  • consulting, such as Martijn Wilder AM, Head of Global Environmental Markets, Baker & McKenzie
  • international development and environmental management, such as Nils Axel Braathen, Principal Administrator, Environment Directorate, OECD
  • diplomacy, such as Hugo Llorens, Consul General of Consulate General of United States in Sydney, 
  • land trusts, such as Gary Wells, CEO of the Nature Conservative Trust of NSW,
  • mining industry, such as Samantha Daly, Partner, McCullough Robertson
  • government, such as John Seidel, Principal Project Officer, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage
  • NGOs, such as Dr. Anne Poelina, Managing Director, Madjulla Incorporated.
Most of the presentations covered traditional topics, including green fiscal reform, market instruments, energy, fuel and carbon pricing, and renewable energy and innovation. For example, representatives from the US, Roberta Mann (University of Oregon) presented her work Tax Fuel or Miles, Mona Hymel (University of Arizona) delivered her papers on Fighting for Water: Can Federal Market Instruments create a National Trading System in the United States? and Energy Tax Incentives (Oops, I mean “Expenditures”): Did Surrey’s Tax Expenditure Concept Really Impact Tax Laws?, and I presented Picking Winners And Losers: A Qualitative Examination Of Tax Subsidies To The Energy Industry.

Some of the papers, however, extended to biodiversity protection and environmental stewardship. 
One of my favorite presentations was by Dr. Anna Poelina, "A Case Study for Environmental Tax Offsets: Collaboration of Indigenous Science and Western Science to Value and Protect Cultural and Geoheritage Landscapes as Culture, Science and Conservation (Green) Economies." She has developed a website and has been been using film to educate and inform the world of the rare beauty of the Mardoowarra, the Nyikina name of the river now known as the Fitzroy in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, and protect it from the increasingly severe incursions of the mining industry. The films showcase the cultural and natural assets of the area and relay information about lawsuits that have been brought against Rio Tinto following the release of scientific studies about the impacts of mining on the Mardoowarra.

Perhaps the Apache could use film as well as the Internet to share their perspective on the recent Congressional trade of Apache sacred land to Rio Tinto in a fine-print rider attached to the military spending bill in December of 2014, the National Defense Authorization Act.

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