Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Stern Report, Green Taxes, and apathy

Honestly, for all the fanfare that the Stern Report received when it was launched a few weeks ago, you couldn't help feel that the politicians and corporations would all fall in line with it's recommendations - spend more money now to help prevent the effects of climate change, or face far more damaging economic consequences later.
But the message hasn't seemed to affect British businesses, or the Treasury. Somehow they all feel that Britain isn't implicated by the report.
While Richmond council released it's plans to base it's council parking rates on vehicle emissions, it was praised by David Milliband as it moved to tax the polluter. Other councils seem ready to follow suit. But what about businesses? Well, to give you an idea, to quote the Guardian, "Michael O'Leary, the chief executive of Ryanair, called the idea of raising taxes to protect the environment "horse shit"."
Does Gordon Brown have the nerve and will to make a difference? In next month's budget, he has the opportunity to really make Vehicle Excise Duty mean something. In the late 90's VED was changed to tax vehicles according to their CO2 emissions. It is a green tax meant to change a consumer's choice of vehicle, as well as raise revenue. At the time the government was responding to the Kyoto challenge.
In March this year, the Chancellor raised the VED by £45, and created a new VED band G, which included many of the large 4x4 models that plague the city centres. However, that increase was hugely unsubstantial, and led to us publicly criticising his credentials as a 'green' chancellor.
This December he has an opportunity to really take his own medicine, from his own treasury. Follow the Stern Report's findings, and use the VED for what it was intended for. There needs to be substantial ££ incentives for people to choose a fuel-efficient vehicle, and at the same time he needs to throw down the gauntlet and strongly penalise those who choose to drive a highly polluting vehicle.
Does the government have the will to make a difference? You can help today and tell the PM by signing our new petition on the Downing Street petition site -