This paper provides a framework for examining environment taxes. It reviews the theoretical efficiency of three types of environment taxes: taxes on emissions or Pigouvian taxes; taxes on productive inputs or consumer goods whose use is related to environmental damage; and environment-related provisions in other taxes. A survey of environment taxes in 42 countries--drawn from developing countries, economies in transition, and industrial countries--illustrates that the use of environment taxes differs dramatically from the recommendations of environment tax theory. This divergence between the theory and practice of environment taxes can be attributed to several factors; environment taxes are difficult to implement, there are many factors that impede their effectiveness, and their introduction may be discouraged by their implications for other policy objectives.
This paper notes that market failure, policy failures, and population pressures are major sources of environmental degradation and that linkages between economic activities and the environment exist at the levels of macroeconomic objectives, macroeconomic policy instruments, implementation of environmental policies, and measurement of economic activity. This paper also points out that fiscal instruments can, and indeed do, play a significant role in resolving environmental problems. In addition, market-based solutions, including pollution permits, also have merit. This paper further points out that implementing environmental policies poses considerable challenges for public policymakers and concludes by suggesting areas for further research.