Green budget? More like dirty brown

Posted by benet — 12 March 2008 at 3:06pm - Comments

Budget 2008

We were promised the "greenest budget yet". We've been given a budget that's dirty brown. Instead of grasping the opportunity to restructure our economy to deal with the threat of catastrophic climate change, the Chancellor has actively damaged his environmental credentials and hurt efforts to reduce UK CO2 emissions.

It is not just that the green taxes announced will be ineffectual; it's that there is no recognition of the scale of the problem or fundamental changes needed if we are to decarbonise our economy.

Let's start by looking at the so-called big-idea on gas guzzlers. Alistair Darling has proposed a first year tax charge on the sale of new high-emitting vehicles. As a concept, it's fine (although the level of tax is hardly likely to make a difference if you are already shelling out for a new Chelsea tractor). But there is a more fundamental problem: what is going to happen to the money?

Green taxation is an important tool in the armoury of government as it seeks to encourage good behaviour and stop our polluting habits. Putting up the cost of one activity should encourage us to do another.

However, for any new tax to work, it has to have popular support. The poll tax riots showed what happens to politicians who introduce taxes which the public don't like. And this is where Alistair Darling is running into problems.

The Treasury hate linking money raised by one tax with spending on another area. For example: spending the proceeds of aviation taxes on financing new railways. In economics jargon it's called hypothecation; in the real world it's called common sense; but in the Treasury it's called heresy. To do it would mean giving up power - power built up over many years - and no politician likes to do that.

Yet, if the public are to support green taxation, they have to know that the money is going to a good cause. If the extra cash raised by taxing a gas guzzler goes towards bailing out the national debt then it will just cause resentment. If an extra 2p on a litre of petrol goes to finance the Northern Rock, then of course we will see more fuel protests.

There was nothing in today's speech which recognised this or attempted to address issues of public acceptability. In fact it was worse. By claiming that his measures are green, he simply undermines support for the measures we need if we are going to change behaviour.

Others can decide whether this budget is good for the economy in the short term. It is clear to us that it will do nothing to help the fight against climate change, and that is a disaster in the long term.

What a disappointing budget. Trailed as being green yet in reality a sad shade of traditional grey – with one or two very small tasters of what might have been if this government was willing to show real leadership on climate change.

But well done Greenpeace for highlight the fundamental inequity of green taxes – indirect taxes which will disproportionately affect the poorer members of our community. Unless, as you point out, they are linked directly to expenditure on programmes, policies and projects which will have direct environmental benefits (and thus often social benefits too). The primary purpose of any green tax should not be to raise income for the government. It should be to change our behaviour and help us reduce our environmental impact. The financial element should only apply in order to price us out of bad habits and provide real affordable alternatives, giving us the option of adopting good habits.

Penalising dirty cars is one approach but the chancellor should also be stimulating the introduction of more efficient cars. Not just cars that deliver single digit percentage point improvements in efficiency, but those designs that offer radical improvements.

For example this air powered car:

http://www.autoblog.com/2007/06/01/worlds-first-air-powered-car-introduced/

Even conventional powered cars can far exceed the efficiency of current models. This diesel vehicle for example will do 160mpg:

http://evolution.loremo.com/

Mark.
---
Treboona@googlemail.com
http://www.treboona.co.uk

We should be concerned that there is a perception that the budget is a mechanism for implementing green policies. It can be no more an extremely blunt instrument. Environmental policy should be at the core of all government policy decision making - for instance how is is possible that a tax on high emission transport is green, when there is little or no alternative to the users of such vehicles? Surely, a truly green initiative would have announced a 20 year plan to invest NHS scale budgets in the country's public transport infrastructure, townscapes, traffic management etc. rendering car ownership unnecessary. Taxation will have a part to play, but it does not address the real issue. Anything else (such as the recent budget) is just tinkering and at worst using green policy as a smokescreen for a blatant money raising exercise.

Quite right RyszrdG. I agree that Green Taxation is not nor should it be the only policy response to climate change. We need clear regulation (for example of efficiency standards in cars and power stations) as well as market instruments (like carbon trading).

But Green Tax is one of the tools that should be used, especially when looking at behaviour change. The point I didn't make is that Green Tax is about helping people to change their behaviour, and to accept it. That's why hypothecation is so important; they can see where their money is going.

It is great to have a clean environment. Great that there is a law that those causing pollution will fine or have tax for them to use things in a right manner. Environment is our treasure and we really need to take care of it. We all know that polluted environment can cause lots of harm in human body. So it would be better for everybody to be disciplined in proper way of living for a more enjoyable life. It is also necessary nowadays to suffer not only with the problem of the environment but also with the economical slowdown. Many people engaging to many options like money loans just to survive. I am experiencing also this hard time to gain money. I'm quite depressed where I should go to ask for help. I have no option but to have payday loan to support my financial needs. You can't count on quick loans for all of it. But better for me to know that environment will be better than ever.

What a disappointing budget. Trailed as being green yet in reality a sad shade of traditional grey – with one or two very small tasters of what might have been if this government was willing to show real leadership on climate change. But well done Greenpeace for highlight the fundamental inequity of green taxes – indirect taxes which will disproportionately affect the poorer members of our community. Unless, as you point out, they are linked directly to expenditure on programmes, policies and projects which will have direct environmental benefits (and thus often social benefits too). The primary purpose of any green tax should not be to raise income for the government. It should be to change our behaviour and help us reduce our environmental impact. The financial element should only apply in order to price us out of bad habits and provide real affordable alternatives, giving us the option of adopting good habits.

Penalising dirty cars is one approach but the chancellor should also be stimulating the introduction of more efficient cars. Not just cars that deliver single digit percentage point improvements in efficiency, but those designs that offer radical improvements. For example this air powered car: http://www.autoblog.com/2007/06/01/worlds-first-air-powered-car-introduced/ Even conventional powered cars can far exceed the efficiency of current models. This diesel vehicle for example will do 160mpg: http://evolution.loremo.com/ Mark. --- Treboona@googlemail.com http://www.treboona.co.uk

We should be concerned that there is a perception that the budget is a mechanism for implementing green policies. It can be no more an extremely blunt instrument. Environmental policy should be at the core of all government policy decision making - for instance how is is possible that a tax on high emission transport is green, when there is little or no alternative to the users of such vehicles? Surely, a truly green initiative would have announced a 20 year plan to invest NHS scale budgets in the country's public transport infrastructure, townscapes, traffic management etc. rendering car ownership unnecessary. Taxation will have a part to play, but it does not address the real issue. Anything else (such as the recent budget) is just tinkering and at worst using green policy as a smokescreen for a blatant money raising exercise.

Quite right RyszrdG. I agree that Green Taxation is not nor should it be the only policy response to climate change. We need clear regulation (for example of efficiency standards in cars and power stations) as well as market instruments (like carbon trading). But Green Tax is one of the tools that should be used, especially when looking at behaviour change. The point I didn't make is that Green Tax is about helping people to change their behaviour, and to accept it. That's why hypothecation is so important; they can see where their money is going.

It is great to have a clean environment. Great that there is a law that those causing pollution will fine or have tax for them to use things in a right manner. Environment is our treasure and we really need to take care of it. We all know that polluted environment can cause lots of harm in human body. So it would be better for everybody to be disciplined in proper way of living for a more enjoyable life. It is also necessary nowadays to suffer not only with the problem of the environment but also with the economical slowdown. Many people engaging to many options like money loans just to survive. I am experiencing also this hard time to gain money. I'm quite depressed where I should go to ask for help. I have no option but to have payday loan to support my financial needs. You can't count on quick loans for all of it. But better for me to know that environment will be better than ever.

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