Following South Africa’s example, Tunisia has devised its own roadmap for implementing carbon pricing, as well as monitoring the reduction of greenhouse emissions. Funded by the World Bank and advised by the United Nations Development Program, the project is called “Support for Carbon Pricing for the Implementation of the National Determined Contribution and the Low Carbon Transition in Tunisia.” It launched in Gammarth, Tunisia’s north yesterday.

Carbon reduction towards a climate-efficient world combines SDG goals 7, 11 and 13. In some cases where carbon taxes are reinvested into the economy, it could even tie in further SDG goals. Namely, SDG 1, 12, and 9. This makes it a very important goal for any serious country working towards the UN’s 2030 agenda. Globally, about 40 countries and more than 20 cities will soon have emissions trading systems or carbon taxes. In Africa, South African president Cyril Ramaphosa made the carbon tax law a priority upon his re-election recently. The tax puts pressure on major GHG (greenhouse gas) emitters to find alternatives or pay heavily.

The Tunisian project has identified three main sectors for implementing carbon pricing instruments: energy, electricity, and the cement industry. Expected to run through December 2020, the project’s tripod of carbon pricing policies will be adjusted to the North African nation’s specific environment by: establishing a carbon tax to finance an Energy Transition Fund, deploy a result-based system to support growing renewable electricity, and finally, design a carbon pricing regulator acceptable to players in the cement industry and the government authorities.

“Tunisia has all the assets and all the elements to make the most of the international carbon market, what is needed now is to prepare the skills to get the best benefits,” said UNDP resident deputy representative to Tunisia, El Kebir Alaoui.

Project coordinator Nejib Othmane told TAP, “Lifting energy subsidies is being done gradually by trying to align prices on the local market at international prices, with one condition, not to harm disadvantaged households and preserve their purchasing power by adopting a gradual transition.

“It is not a question of creating new taxes either, but of directing existing taxes in the energy sector based on the carbon content of the projects, for example, taxing CO2 emitting products and not just any product with regard to the Energy Transition Fund (ETF).”

Othmane said there would be no new taxes for other sectors, as the idea is to use existing instruments at the international level to “take advantage of the carbon market” in the heavy emitting sectors. The carbon tax is built on the polluter pays principle, and it aims to discourage continuous industrial emissions as well as nudge industries in the direction of alternative energy sources.

Tunisia has been building up to this. It established a national GHG inventory system, as well as a “Management Unit for Climate Change” embedded in the Ministry of Local Affairs and Environment. Last year, the Institute for Climate Economies (I4CE) designed a capacity building programme for implementing carbon pricing policies in Tunisia, loaded with workshops and high-level engagements on stakeholder concerns.

Tunisia hopes to reduce its carbon intensity by forty-one percent before 2030 (thirteen percent unconditionally, and twenty-eight percent conditionally). The energy sector accounts for seventy-five percent of proposed emission reductions. Tunisia recently launched a smart grid system and a renewable energy plan for its electricity sector.

By Caleb Ajinomoh

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