Switzerland modifies VOC tax plan

Incentive tax to be introduced one year late, but at higher initial rate

A planned Swiss tax on emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is to be introduced one year later than planned, the country's environment ministry has announced. The tax was due to become effective from 1 January 1999, but has been delayed after the government became persuaded that not enough time had been left for implementation after its first announcement last year (ENDS Daily 17 November 1997). The tax is designed to help close an annual emissions gap of 27,000 tonnes between projections and Switzerland's target for 2000 of emissions no greater than 145,000 tonnes. Without further cutting VOC emissions, the government expects problems of ozone pollution to continue in Switzerland. Solvents used in products such as paints, varnishes and detergents are the main emissions sources targeted. Though the tax will now be introduced later, the government is hoping to maintain its effectiveness by announcing that the rate will be set at SFr2 (Ecu1.26) per kilogram of VOC emissions immediately on its introduction in 2000. Previously, the tax was due to rise to this level in 2001 from a starting rate of SFr1 per kilogram. A further rise in the tax rate, to SFr3 is due to take effect in 2003 as originally planned.

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