Eco tax ‘good’ but, must be progressive to achieve targets – Experts

The government’s quest to levy petrol and diesel vehicles owners GHS 100 annually is a good initiative but must be progressive to encourage timely maintenance and reducing emissions.

Mr Desmond Appiah, Ghana Lead for Clean a Fund told the Ghana News Agency, “By progressive I mean there should be an emission standard where vehicles in a less emitting range pay less”.

“So, on a scale of one to 10 if one’s vehicle emission after testing records below three, the owner is charged for instance GHS 20, while those beyond emission level eight pay GHS 2000.”

The policy if reviewed to be progressive would then become an incentive for vehicle owners to embrace good vehicle maintenance practice to reduce emission that pollute the air, a public health concern.

The government aims to incentivise the adoption of eco-friendly energy sources for vehicles as part of its broader commitment to climate-positive actions and carbon offsetting.

Mr Appiah said with a progressive system like that in place, people would be encouraged to buy cars that pollute less and alternatively buy an electric vehicle.

“If it is maintained as it is bearing in mind the mile stone of the recently ourdoored electric vehicle policy that will stop the importation of internal combustible engine (fossil fuel run vehicles) in 2045, then Ghana will likely become a dumping ground of vehicles not in use from the global north,” he said.

He said major vehicle manufacturing countries such as the European Union have approved a deal that would lead to the phaseout of sales of new fossil fuel cars by 2035, with a final green light by energy ministers.

Already the 27-nation bloc have joined more than a dozen other nations and have set deadlines for ending sales of new cars with Internal Combustion Engines (ICE) which emit toxic gasses that are a major driver of climate change.

Burning fossil fuels for energy is by far the biggest cause of climate change. It is also the engine of modern life – even with the growth of renewables, fossil fuels produce around 80% of the world’s energy, a Reuters report said.

U.N. climate negotiations over the last three decades, however, have yet to address the issue head on.

At the on-going COP28 in Dubai, more than 80 countries are pushing for a broader pact to phase out all CO2-emitting fossil fuels.

Aside from Norway, Europe’s biggest oil and gas producer, excluding Russia, this position is also backed by western producers the United States and Canada, the 27 country European Union, climate-vulnerable small island states, some African nations including Kenya and Ethiopia, and Latin American countries Chile and Colombia.

Some representatives of African nations have said they could support a phase out deal if wealthy countries, who have long produced and used fossil fuels, agree to quit first.

Ghana, is one of such countries with a position that it will decarbonize the energy sector by 2027, according to its energy transition policy.

The U.N.’s climate science panel – the IPCC – has said steep fossil fuel cuts are needed to avert more severe climate change.
Alongside this, it sees a limited role for carbon capture to zero out the world’s emissions by 2050.

The U.S. and EU support a COP28 deal that recognises these technologies, which can help polluting sectors such as cement or steel to bring down their emissions.

But they want caveats in the deal to prevent carbon capture promises from being used to excuse business as usual.

Overall, European nations say the COP deal must clearly ask countries to cut their fossil fuel use enough to stop global warming exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius and unleashing far more severe impacts.
Dr. Bob Manteaw, a Senior Research Fellow and Lecturer at the Centre for Climate Change and Sustainability Studies of the University of Ghana said the eco levy was a good one but should be called “climate change tax to reflect its objective.

“Everyone’s activity contributes to emission from cooking, washing to transportation so it is just for the levy to be introduced,” he said.

He however, proposed that the levy should be pegged between GHS 10 to GHS 50 for all and sundry to pay and not only ICE vehicle owners.

Mr Godfred Abulbire, the General Secretary of the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU), commenting on the proposed eco levy described it as pre-matured .
“The conditions attached are harsh,” he said.

He explained that the goal of encouraging a switch to electric vehicles in the medium to long term was good, however, the structures needed to be put in place before rolling out such a policy was limited.

“If my members who commute between Accra-Kumasi-Tamale buy electric buses now, will they get a charging point along the route?” he questioned

As of 2022, Ghana has over 3.2 million registered vehicles with nearly all vehicles in Ghana run on diesel fuels (28percent), petrol (61percent) and Liquified Petroleum Gas (11percent), according to the country’s new electric vehicle policy

The transport sector is a major fast-growing source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and is the single largest contributor, responsible for 48 per cent of the total energy emissions and 17 per cent of the total national emissions.

In 2016, for instance, mobile combustion emissions summed up to 7.2Mt CO2e. The cumulative impact of Ghana’s total Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions from road transport alone between 2000 and 2016 was 59.9 per cent.

Residents are breathing dangerously polluted air that can cause a suite of health issues such as asthma and respiratory illnesses.

Accra has over the years recorded pollution five to eleven times higher than the WHO recommended limits.

As a result of the use of fossil fuels in vehicles, the transport sector places wider costs on society.

Current Medium and Heavy-Duty Vehicles, for instance, constitute a major source of local air pollutants, including nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and particulate matter.

According to the World Health Organisation, traffic noise is associated with sleep problems, tiredness, headaches, high blood pressure, hormonal effects,

stress and increased risk of heart attack.

Another way the ICE vehicles are considered harmful to the environment is through oil and fuel spills and leaks.

It has been found out that when these toxic liquids seep off roads and highways into the ground, they can damage ecologies and pollute water sources.


This story was a collaboration between Ghana News Agency and New Narratives. Funding was provided by the Clean Air Fund. The funder had no say in the story’s content.