I hear on the news that a committee of MPs has once again decided that the only way to curb environmental pollution is to increase taxes. The BBC News Story suggests that taxes be increased on 4×4’s and air travel.
The report criticizes the Government for not taking decisive action to shift the balance of affordability in favour of trains, buses and lower carbon cars and lorries.
But it misses what is, in my opinion the fundamental point that so far all government has missed, that it is not just about affordability.
Anyone that’s been forced to use a bus or a train instead of their car will tell you, the reason they take the car is primarily NOT one of affordability. They don’t not take the bus because it’s too expensive, they don’t take it because it is too inconvenient. They don’t take it because, depending on the time of day or night, it can contain some very unpleasant characters laden with alcohol or something else and can be very intimidating. That is of course if they can find a space to sit down on the wretched things, on a seat that’s not got some very sinister looking stains or possibly someone’s discarded chewing gum.
Of course, it’s a beautiful thing that we live in a country where these are our worst fears. But live in such a country we do, and as such the Government need to think about how to give us viable alternatives to using our cars, and our air travel rather than how to tax us all out of using these things. The fact is, you will not tax people away from their cars, and any thoughts that you can are either misguided delusion, or out and out lies.
This increased taxation view takes no account of what will happen to the country when the tax burden is further increased – though I realise that outcome is likely to bear no relation to environmental issues.
If the fuel scale escalator returns, and cars and delivery vehicles are taxed in £300 bands, then the cost of goods in our shops goes up. The companies which are making, moving and selling these goods must be expected to increase their prices to cover this increased expense and the price will go up.
In a recent survey, one in ten people (that’s approximately 6.1 million people) are thinking of emigrating in the next 2 years. The number one reason for this was this country is TOO EXPENSIVE (the weather played a part in the decisions too, but taxing rainy days isn’t yet on the government’s agenda).
Of course, if 6.1 million people leave the country over the next 2 years that’s a lot less carbon emissions and the committee will be chalked up as a great success. Probably with a nice golden handshake for those concerned, paid for from the extra taxes.
What needs to happen if we are to reduce carbon emissions and beat environmental change, is to stop expelling vast quantities of energy and hot air discussing ways to get more tax out of people. Stop trying to figure out how to make people stop using their MPV’s and air travel by making them more expensive and instead give us viable alternatives.
No long lasting significant human achievement has EVER come from being beaten with sticks, and increased taxation is the equivalent in a civilised country, of being beaten with a big stick. The people eventually rebel and everything comes unravelled. However, give humans a positive incentive and we’ll strive for it.
Now that people are used to travelling, whether in their cars or vast distances in aeroplanes, no democratic government can possibly hope to stop it. But they can provide the means and resources to discover better ways of making such journeys in the vehicles we currently use. We need alternative, long lasting and cleaner fuel alternatives to make this happen, not more pound coins in our petrol tanks.
Stop increasing taxation, start increasing research funding. Give us alternative energy means and then we’ll beat climate change. No other way really addresses the problem at all.