An Environmental and Climate Economist at the Centre for Climate Change & Food Security (CCCFS), Dr. Alexander Nti Kani, has shed light on the apparent contradiction between permitting the importation of high-sulphur content fuels and the government’s focus on taxing emissions from vehicles.
Dr. Nti Kani argues that this seeming hypocrisy underscores a greater threat posed by the importation of polluted fuels, leading him to express concern over Ghana’s carbon emission strategy.
In his view, the government could better align its policies with global fuel quality standards and maximize revenue from existing carbon reduction initiatives rather than imposing taxes on imports.
“Prioritizing the adoption of clean and low-sulphur fuel with less than 30 ppm aligns with sustainable development goals and offers several compelling advantages,” says Dr. Nti Kani. He emphasizes that investing in cleaner fuels directly addresses environmental concerns, contributing to reduced emissions of sulphur dioxide, a major air pollutant detrimental to respiratory health and the environment.
Moreover, embracing cleaner fuels aligns with global efforts to combat climate change by significantly reducing the carbon footprint. Dr. Nti Kani believes this not only demonstrates environmental responsibility on the global stage but also supports international climate change mitigation efforts.
From an economic perspective, Dr. Nti Kani advocates for investing in cleaner fuels as a potential stimulant for the growth of a cleaner energy sector. This encouragement of sustainable technologies can foster job creation within sustainable industries, contrasting with the potential burdensome impact of taxing emissions on businesses and consumers.
Dr. Nti Kani states, “Focusing on clean and low-sulphur fuel, rather than taxing emissions, is a strategic and holistic approach addressing environmental, economic, and social considerations. Embracing cleaner fuels can guide Ghana towards a more sustainable and environmentally friendly future, positively impacting public health, the economy, and global standing while capitalizing on gains from World Bank agreements.”
Regarding the taxation of vehicle usage, Dr. Nti Kani critiques the current strategy as misguided, especially given Ghana’s participation in global initiatives aimed at reducing carbon emissions. Despite receiving significant payments for carbon reduction efforts, transparency regarding fund utilization is lacking, raising concerns about the government’s apparent neglect of prioritizing net emissions reduction over imposing taxes on vehicles.
Dr. Nti Kani highlights Ghana’s lenient stance on fuel quality, permitting diesel imports with over 3000 parts per million (ppm) of sulphur. This contrasts sharply with global transitions to Ultra-low-sulphur diesel (ULSD), posing environmental and health risks.
Drawing a parallel with the United Kingdom, where emissions from cars are transparently taxed based on a vehicle’s CO2 emissions, Dr. Nti Kani questions Ghana’s implementation of a similar law.
He seeks clarity on whether the flat rate imposed reflects a well-considered strategy to reduce the country’s carbon footprint or merely serves as a revenue-generating mechanism for the government. Furthermore, he advocates for clarification on whether other modes of transport, such as sea and air, are subject to emission taxes and how these taxes are utilized.
Dr. Nti Kani’s calls for a reevaluation of Ghana’s environmental policies, urging a shift towards cleaner fuels and a more transparent and holistic approach to addressing carbon emissions.