Green Taxes

Green taxes work, says an evaluation by Sweden's Environmental Protection Agency that was released last fall. Environmental taxes in Sweden, which were phased in starting in 1984, amount to only 6 percent of the country's tax revenue. However, theirs is one of the world's largest programs using taxes to protect the environment.

Taxes on sulphur dioxide emissions resulted in a 30 percent reduction in acid rain in Sweden between 1989 and 1995. The tax on fertilizers has led to an estimated 10 percent reduction in use.

The program has caused power stations to clean up diesel emissions and switch over to burning self-renewing brushwood rather than fossil fuels. Other taxes cover nitrogen fertilizers, pesticides, the scrapping of cars, water pollution, and gravel extraction.

"Taxes work better than environmental regulations," said Rolf Annerberg, the Swedish EPA's director-general.