Proposed bill to introduce carbon tax in Singapore open for public consultation

Jalelah Abu Baker Channel NewsAsia 31 Oct 17;

SINGAPORE: The Government is conducting a second round of public consultation on the draft Carbon Pricing Bill, which sets out a framework for implementing the carbon tax, including the measurement, reporting and verification requirements.

The carbon tax will be applied “upstream” on large direct emitters, defined as those that emit 25,000 or more tonnes of greenhouse gases annually. This amount is equivalent to emissions produced by the annual electricity consumption of 12,500 four-room HDB households.

It is expected to affect between 30 and 40 emitters operating in Singapore, including power stations.

Under the proposed bill released for public consultation on Tuesday (Oct 31), the Government is looking at a tax rate of between S$10 and S$20 per tonne of greenhouse gas emissions from 2019.

These plans were first announced by Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat in his Budget speech this year, and are part of a suite of measures that will help Singapore meet its commitments under the Paris climate change agreement.

HOW WILL THE CARBON TAX WORK?

In its public consultation paper, which can be accessed on the REACH website, the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) said that the carbon tax will take the form of a “fixed-price credits-based mechanism”.

This means that the affected facilities will pay the tax by buying and surrendering carbon credits corresponding to their greenhouse gas emissions, rather than through direct payment.

The carbon credits will be issued by the National Environment Agency (NEA), and the price level for the credits will be determined closer to the date of implementation.

The carbon tax will be levied on a facility’s total emissions of the six greenhouse gases - carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride.

As for the monitoring and reporting of emissions, facilities have to submit a monitoring plan according to NEA’s guidelines by Dec 31 each year. Their annual report on total emissions, which must be independently verified by a qualified third party, should be submitted by Jun 30.

Taxes have to be paid by Sep 30 every year.

Under the draft bill, there will be associated penalties for non-compliance, such as fraudulent reporting in the verifiable emissions report, late payment of tax or tax evasion.

Taking reference from legislation in other economies, if an entity fails to pay the tax, it can be fined triple the amount of outstanding tax. Those who intentionally provide an inaccurate emissions report can also be jailed for up to three years.

Revenue from the carbon tax will help to fund measures by industries to reduce emissions, said the National Climate Change Secretariat Strategy Group (NCCS) which comes under the Prime Minister’s Office.

WILL THIS AFFECT HOUSEHOLDS?

While the tax will not apply to households, residents may see a trickle-down effect through a rise in electricity tariffs.

NCCS had said earlier this year that for the average household living in a four-room flat which pays around S$72 per month in electricity bills, the carbon tax translates to an increase of S$1.70 to S$3.30 per month.

The Finance Minister had also said that such a tax system would be “modest” on most businesses and households. The idea is to hit large industrial energy users and change mindsets on harmful emissions, said experts who spoke to Channel NewsAsia.

The NCCS said that the carbon tax will stimulate clean technology and market innovation, and create a price signal to incentivise industries to reduce their emissions, complementing other regulatory measures.

Members of the public may view the draft bill on the REACH website from Oct 31 to Dec 8 and submit their feedback to the ministry.

Source: CNA/ja


Upcoming carbon tax on large emitters to be paid via credits instead of cash: Draft Bill
SIAU MING EN Today Online 31 Oct 17;

SINGAPORE — The carbon tax to be levied on large emitters such as power stations and refineries from 2019 will be paid for using credits bought, rather than via cash directly, under the Government’s proposed framework.

This system keeps options open for Singapore if and when the authorities decide to adopt other systems, such as by linking Singapore’s carbon pricing framework to a bigger jurisdiction’s.

Under the draft Carbon Pricing Bill released for public consultation on Tuesday (Oct 31), large emitters can buy carbon credits at a fixed price from the National Environment Agency (NEA) throughout a year. At the end of a year of assessment, the credits are used to pay tax levied on their total greenhouse emissions.

The new tax, at a rate of between $10 and S$20 per tonne, is expected to apply to 30 to 40 emitters, defined as those that emit 25,000 or more tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announced in his Budget speech this year. These include power stations, refineries, semi-conductor plants and the petrochemical sector, which contributed to about 79 per cent of Singapore’s total greenhouse gas emissions, based on 2014 data.

The price of the carbon credits will be determined closer to the implementation date of the tax, said a spokesperson from the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR).

These entities will have to register themselves as a taxable facility by June 30, and submit their plan for monitoring emission levels to the NEA by Dec 31. Their annual report on total emissions must be submitted by June 30. The first carbon tax is expected to be paid in 2020.

The tax will have to be paid by Sept 30 every year. Those who fail to pay the carbon tax can be fined triple the amount of outstanding tax. Those who intentionally provide inaccurate information or report to dodge taxes can be fined an amount that is triple the evaded sum, on top of a fine capped at S$10,000, or jailed up to three years, or both.

The six greenhouse gases to be covered under the tax are: Carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride. Greenhouse gas emissions from several small emissions sources that do not form part of the main production activity for industrial facilities will be exempted from the carbon tax. These include the use of hydrofluorocarbons and perfluorocarbons in fire protection equipment and the carbon dioxide used for fire extinguishers.

This is in line with international practices, said a MEWR spokesperson.

The MEWR said it took into account international standards when designing the proposed carbon tax framework. A spokesperson said a fixed-price credit-based mechanism was favoured over direct cash payments because it allows Singapore to switch systems, if needed, as it continues to study different models of carbon pricing.

For instance, Singapore could link its carbon tax framework to a bigger jurisdiction in future and a credits system would put in place some “building blocks” for that.

Carbon pricing can come in the form of a carbon tax or an Emissions Trading Scheme, which uses market mechanisms to price carbon.

The draft Bill considers those who emitted 2,000 tonnes or more greenhouse gas in a preceding year as a reportable facility, which have to comply with similar reporting requirements in the Energy Conservation Act.

This means they have to monitor their emissions, for which they have to submit a report by June 30 every year to the NEA.

Both taxable and reportable facilities can apply to be deregistered if their greenhouse gas emissions fall below their respective thresholds for three calendar years running.

But if they can prove that there are “significant and substantial changes to its processes” that can lower its emissions “considerably” below the respective thresholds, they can apply for deregistration the very next year. The MEWR said such applications will be approved by the NEA on a case-by-case basis.

Members of the public have six weeks to give their feedback on the draft Bill, which should be submitted in softcopy to mewr_cpbill@mewr.gov.sg by Dec 8. This public consultation comes after an earlier one conducted by the National Climate Change Secretariat from March to May this year.

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