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Transition to social-ecological sustainability using the environmental fiscal reform

Flavio Gazzani (Economics and Law, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy)

International Journal of Social Economics

ISSN: 0306-8293

Article publication date: 26 February 2021

Issue publication date: 4 May 2021




The purpose of this paper is to examine the introduction of three specific fiscal flexible mechanisms such as VAT surcharges/discounts, surcharges on import/manufacture of risk substances and maturity land tax to implement a new environmental fiscal reform that aims to reduce pollutions and emissions and avoid a regressive impact on low-income households using a feedback system.


The idea behind this article is to explore alternative environmental taxation system that aims to foster the transition to social-ecological sustainability without affect negatively poor and low-income households. It looks at the potential of environmental fiscal reform in terms of environmental benefits and present in the first section, evidence of some economic regressive impact caused by environmental fiscal reform in European Union from previous empirical studies. The article then introduces of a feedback mechanism to create a repayment system, such as rebate or cash transfer to compensate the regressive effect of the levy being added to the consumer price affecting low-income households in a very short period and push consumers to buy alternative eco-friendly products and services and to stimulate the market to offer them.


Lowering VAT rate for green products and services has the potential to increase demand for sustainable products and services and stimulate green jobs. Surcharges on import and manufacture of risk substances play a significant role to discourage the import of hazardous and pollutant substances by putting price on them and push the industrial sector towards a medium and long-term transition. Lowering taxes rates for buildings in inner cities encourage improvements and renovations, while raising tax on peri-urban areas discourage land speculation in areas with higher grade of biodiversity. This fiscal mechanism indirectly will reduce private and public transport emissions caused by urban sprawling and travel costs, reduce public infrastructure costs for connecting suburban area to the inner city and reduce the loss of urban-edge farmland area that are vital for smart urban growth.


The previous studies on the economic impact of the on environmental fiscal reform analysis, have focused on environmental aspects, economic growth and employment, but little on the regressive impact in short and medium terms on least wealthy sections of society. The proposed feedback mechanism aims to reduce distortion and inequalities caused by surcharges on existing taxation to low-income using monetary repayment measures, especially for products and services with elastic demand and no substitutes.



Gazzani, F. (2021), "Transition to social-ecological sustainability using the environmental fiscal reform", International Journal of Social Economics, Vol. 48 No. 5, pp. 675-692.



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