Wednesday, August 15, 2007

New C-Charge Consultation in London - Charge Gas Guzzlers More

You may have seen / read an article over the weekend, or in yesterday's Evening Standard about the new Emissions-influenced Congestion Charge Proposal for London.

At the Alliance Against Urban 4x4s, we wholeheartedly support this proposal. We submitted a report to the GLA last summer recommending this move to CO2 emissions, rather than try to pick out 4x4s alone. We also believe there is strong support for the new measure. When we conducted a poll in 2005 with Greenpeace, we asked over 5,400 people, 'Should large Gas Guzzlers be charged more (£20)?', and over 85% responded yes!

The new C Charge proposal is thus:

* To switch the C Charge from a system based on engine size to one of CO2 emissions. This would follow the established VED tax bands. It would also follow the lead from several London councils switching their annual parking rates to a system based on carbon emissions.

* Vehicles in the lowest bands A-B would be allowed in to the zone for free. Currently only electric and 'alternatively powered vehicles' are allowed in free.

* Vehicles in Bands C-F would continue to be charged a daily rate of £8. Pre-2001 vehicles under 3000cc would be charged similarly at £8

* The most polluting Band G vehicles (which includes the majority of new 4x4s) would be charged £25 per day.

* Significantly, large hybrid 4x4s that still emit over 200 gm/km CO2 would be charged as a Band F vehicle, rather than being allowed in free, as they are currently.

You can read more about the proposal on the TfL website.

If you would like to submit your views on the proposal, you can do so online.

In case you happened to read the negative comments in yesterday's Evening Standard from the Green GLA member Jenny Jones, the criticisms can easily be dismissed. Her views are not reflective generally of other Greens and environmental groups, by the way.

Jenny reportedly suggested that allowing band B vehicles in for free would encourage more travel and make Central London more congested. But I've checked. Sales of the small band A and B vehicles account for only 3-4% of the market sales in the UK. Admittedly this was nearer to zero % a few years ago, and both the concern for alternative vehicles with low CO2 emissions and better fuel efficiency, as well as discounts for traveling into the C-Charge zone, has increased sales. The other point is that in the real world, people will not simply give up their cars. We need to understand how people change. What is needed now is a real carrot and stick approach that provides incentives for would-be buyers to purchase smaller, lighter and less damaging vehicles. At the same time we need more clear measures to discourage the manufacture sales and purchasing of larger, heavier, thirstier and more polluting vehicles. The new C Charge proposal offers both - simultaneously continuing to address congestion whilst also addressing a real need to reward people for making smarter choices.

Next we need to see better and cheaper public transport. And possibly a rebate for cycling in to London regularly?