The environment tax was introduced from Oct. 1. Although the introduction came very late, it is hoped that the new tax will help change the mind-set and behavior of enterprises and consumers so that they can contribute to mitigating global warming through reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, which account for about 90 percent of greenhouse gases.

The new tax covers all forms of fossil fuel including coal, oil products and natural gas. It is designed so that ¥289 will be imposed on one ton of carbon dioxide emitted. The tax rate will be set at a low level at first and then gradually raised in three stages — October 2012, April 2014 and April 2016.

The tax will take the form of a surcharge over existing oil and coal taxes. For example, ¥250 will be imposed on one kiloliter of gasoline or kerosene from Oct. 1, rising to ¥760 in April 2016.

The new tax will increase the costs of doing business and the financial burden on consumers because the increased costs will be passed on to prices of such items as electricity and gasoline.

It is important for enterprises and consumers to realize that they have been responsible for carbon dioxide emissions, the main cause of global warming, and shed the feeling that they are victimized by the environment tax.

The start of the tax should be viewed as a chance for them to participate in combat against global warming. Some industries are against the environment tax. But they should realize that their activities have caused environmental deterioration. It is clear that they should follow the “polluters pay” principle.

On the assumption that all of the new tax burden will be passed on to consumers, it is estimated that an average household will pay an additional ¥33 a month at first. In and after April 2016, the additional monthly burden will be ¥100.

The environment tax is expected to bring tax revenue of about ¥39 billion in fiscal 2012. In and after fiscal 2016, the annual tax revenue will reach about ¥260 billion.

The rise in fossil fuel prices due to the introduction of the environmental tax is expected to accelerate energy saving and the shift to renewable energy sources. All revenue from the tax will be used to strengthen efforts to save energy and to promote green energy sources. It is hoped that the tax will facilitate technological innovation by encouraging enterprises to find opportunities for improving energy savings and developing green energy sources. It is estimated that the environment tax will help reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 0.5 to 2.2 percent in 2020 from the 1990 level.

The government should inform the public of the significance of the new tax and its subsequent effects. It should also consider changing oil and coal taxes into a full-scale environment tax based solely on the amount of carbon dioxide emitted.

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