(At least we have a good excuse!)
We all know that governments want to tax us on every single thing they can, but its finding a justification, or a good reason to do that. There no point denying it, that’s what governments do and whilst the opposition will of course criticise the government when they do it, as we know its all so seldom they ever change it back when they get in power.
Well all of us have heard of road pricing, and indeed I have written lots on this website about it and how unfair it could be (see July article ”Road charging shelved (Oh you think so?”) Well guys, its ugly head is peaking over the battlements again, this time they are playing their ace card, they are going down the environmental route.
The chaps that are putting this forward are “The Governments Committee for Climate Change” who basically say that “road pricing would result in significant emissions reduction if there were no offsetting reductions in other aspects of transport pricing such as fuel duty and VED”. Well what all that means is if they charge us for driving each mile we do and then don’t reduce the tax we pay on each gallon of gas we buy and still charge us heavy for our road tax, we will all drive less “because we won’t be able to afford to”. So I don’t know why the report isn’t just called “Price them off the road” because that’s exactly what this kwango is proposing.
The committee, who are legally required to monitor and offer recommendations on Britain’s carbon reduction progress are therefore recommending that the Government should “seriously consider road pricing” saying it would make environmental and economic sense.
Further little gems from the committee include recommendations that drivers should take “eco-driving” courses and they say that 3.9 million drivers need to be taught and begin practising eco-driving techniques within 10 years and its likely that company car drivers are likely to be the first, for of course, its easy to apply legislation to corporate bodies.
The committee also said that if carbon targets reduction target are to be met, that we need 240,000 electric cars and plug-in hybrid type vehicles by 2015, with a massive hike to 1.7 million units by 2020.
Worryingly, the committee’s previous recommendations on carbon reduction targets were adopted by parliament and have already become law.
Fact is, the motor industry has made huge, gigantic strides towards cleaning up our cars and vans and that research and development continues, with almost every manufacturer trying to develop new technology to make our vehicles cleaner and greener and they are doing a damn good job and as we progress every new evolution will see the carbon emissions reduce even further and that’s going to happen, no matter what any committee says, as the ball is rolling and there is no stopping it now.
So looking at this from a sceptical point of view, this gives the Government the opportunity to whack another big tax raising method into law sooner rather than later, for as we produce greener and greener vehicles, the case for road charging on environmental grounds will begin to disappear, but as I said earlier, we all know, that once a tax is in place, well that’s where it stays.
We all want a greener cleaner planet “who wouldn’t” but we developed our hi-tech society on the back of burning fossil fuels and just about anything we could find that would give us the power to build our industry and economy. Now that we are all that much more sophisticated, we are naturally looking at ways to achieve the same ends in a cleaner and more efficient way. Problem is, we are not the only country or economy on this planet and developing countries are going through the same growth pains we went through 100 years ago and using many of the same methods that we used and you have to ask yourself, why shouldn’t they. We benefited from the rewards of economic growth, using any method we could, so how can we deprive other countries of that same opportunity, just because we did it first and at a time when we were not so environmentally aware and to be frank, do you think even if we were, it would have stopped us?
To put this into perspective and using the latest figure I can find, which looks at a period from between 1990 and 2006, and looks at metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per head of population that we chuck into the atmosphere, it shows Qatar as 1st with 56.2, the USA 9th with 19 and the United Kingdom way down the list at 41st with 9.4, with 40 countries like Finland, Australia, Canada, Germany, Denmark all producing more CO2 than us here in the UK.
This will be welcomed by Government not because of carbon emissions, but as a way to raise tax, as we are already well on the way to reducing emissions produced by vehicles and today’s figure is lower than yesterday’s and tomorrows, will be lower than today’s. That’s supported by figures produced for the first 9 months of 2009, which demonstrate that the average new car CO2 g/km fell by 5.5% and that’s a record and with the average now down to a touch over 150g/km its well on the way to achieving the governments target of 130g/km by 2012.
As these big old leviathan type cars disappear, and we get more hybrids, well the CO2 figure is just going to rocket downwards for already, manufacturers such as Toyota have got down below the magic 130g/km across its range, so this industry really is delivering the goods.
From a different perspective, but equally important, a study by scientists earlier this year has shown that trees and tropical forests in particular are soaking up more carbon dioxide than anyone could ever have imagined. Almost one-fifth (18%) of the worlds fossil fuel emissions are being absorbed by trees across Africa, Amazonia and Asia and that’s pretty much equal to the entire carbon emissions of the USA being absorbed by tree’s and is over double the UK’s figure.
Yes, on a blank sheet of paper, anything we do to reduce emissions has to be good, but fact is we all aware now in a way we never were before and as for our road transport, the vehicle manufacturers have been hugely successful in doing a job for the environment and continue to do so.
We need a mobile workforce, our economy needs it and to place draconian additional charges, formalities and inconveniences on both companies and of course individual households will have adverse effects on us all and the Government will have to be very careful here that they don’t end up throwing the baby out with the bathwater.