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Greener Growth in the Belgian Federation

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  • Tomasz Kozluk

Abstract

The degradation of the environment due to climate change and pollution can harm living standards and damage growth prospects. In Belgium, one of the most densely populated OECD countries, pressure on the environment is particularly strong, and is reinforced by the high energy intensity of the economy and concentrated agriculture. Environmental policy backlogs accumulated over the years highlight the challenges of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and water pollution in a cost-efficient way. To achieve environmental goals at minimum cost across the economy the polluters should face the marginal costs of the externalities they impose, which should be achieved by increasing reliance on environmental taxation. Potential adverse effects on income distribution could then be addressed in the tax benefit system. Moreover, where environmental responsibilities are better dealt with at the regional level, regions should have the most efficient tools, such as taxation powers. Where, due to economies of scale and scope or important cross-regional effects, environmental issues are better dealt with at the national level (for instance in renewable energy sources and transport policies), better co-ordination among regions or a greater role of the federal level should be envisaged. This Working Paper relates to the 2011 OECD Economic Review of Belgium (www.oecd.org/eco/surveys/Belgium). Une croissance plus verte en Belgique La dégradation de l’environnement due au changement climatique et à la pollution peut porter atteinte au niveau de vie et aux perspectives de croissance. En Belgique, l’un des pays de l’OCDE les plus densément peuplés, la pression sur l’environnement est particulièrement forte, et encore aggravée par la haute intensité énergétique de l’économie et la concentration de l’agriculture. Les retards accumulés par la politique environnementale au fil des années accentuent encore le défi qui consiste à réduire, avec un bon rapport coût-efficacité, les émissions de gaz à effet de serre et la pollution de l’eau. Pour que les objectifs environnementaux soient atteints pour un coût minimal dans l’ensemble de l’économie, les pollueurs devraient supporter le coût marginal des externalités qu’ils imposent, ce qui devrait être obtenu par un recours accru à la taxation environnementale. Les conséquences indésirables qui pourraient en découler pour la répartition des revenus pourraient alors trouver une solution dans le cadre du système de prélèvements et de prestations. De plus, dans les cas où les responsabilités environnementales sont mieux prises en charge au niveau régional, les régions devraient disposer des outils les plus efficaces, tels que le pouvoir de taxation. Lorsque, en raison d’économies d’échelle et de gamme ou de la présence d’importants effets transrégionaux, les questions d’environnement relèvent davantage de l’échelon national (par exemple, les sources d’énergie renouvelables et les politiques de transport), une meilleure coordination des régions ou un rôle accru des autorités fédérales devraient être envisagés. Ce Document de travail se rapporte à l’Étude économique de l’OCDE de la Belgique 2011 (www.oecd.org/eco/etudes/Belgique).

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Paper provided by OECD Publishing in its series OECD Economics Department Working Papers with number 894.

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Date of creation: 29 Sep 2011
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Handle: RePEc:oec:ecoaaa:894-en

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Keywords: Belgium; renewable energy; energy efficiency; pollution; federalism; road pricing; environmental policies; greenhouse gas emissions; green growth; transport policies; politiques de transport; pollution; politiques environnementales; énergies renouvelables; efficacité énergétique; émissions de gaz à effet de serre; croissance verte; tarification des routes; fédéralisme; Belgique;

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