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A Greener Britain

March 16, 2006 8:00 PM
By David Goodall in Southampton Unverisity students

Good evening I am David Goodall I was a Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate here in Southampton last year and I am a councillor in Eastleigh and Chair of the Environment and Transport Scrutiny Panel in Eastleigh.

This evening I aim to talk to you about environment issues and some of the ideas that the Liberal Democrats have as a party to tackle this issue and then we can have a general discussion about the issues. So I aim be brief in order that we can have a fuller debate about the issues.

This is difficult as the environment is such a broad subject and to go through all our environment policy would take a very long time. For example last years manifesto had 11 main sections :-

  • Health
  • Education and Skills
  • Justice and Crime
  • Economy & Business
  • Pensions & Benefits
  • Local Communities
  • International Affairs
  • Transport
  • Better Government
  • and of course the Environment

And each section has a green box outlining our environment agenda in that particular policy area, because there is an environmental green thread running through all areas.

All these policies focus on three main areas :-

  • The need to tackle climate change. This means taking a lead with the EU in setting targets for the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, using the principle of 'contraction and convergence'.
  • The need for cleaner transport and environment. This means tackling pollution and congestion issues that really have a major impact on people's quality of life, so this is things like better public transport reducing domestic waste and increasing recycling plus having sustainable development.
  • The need for cleaner Power. This means two things - firstly reducing overall energy use - secondly increasing the use of electricity generation from renewable sources and not replacing existing nuclear power stations as they come to the end of their safe and economic operating lives.

So given this large volume of policy this evening I wish to concentrate on the limited area of how green taxes can help make Britain a fairer and greener place to live.

So what are green taxes ?

Simple they are taxes on environmentally bad things which are done to help change peoples behaviour to do environmentally better things.

They are not new 'Green looking taxes' to make the party look good whilst having no effect on peoples behaviour.

For example increase petrol duty to encourage more public transport use whilst at the same time not providing the public transport is not a green tax it is just a tax.

Another example would be taxing air passengers on a per person, this does not make planes fuller, reduce the number of flights, or increase the fuel efficient of the plane it just raises revenue for the treasury and so a just another tax.

So what types of taxes are the Liberal Democrats talking about with green taxes :-

Petrol duty - the most obvious one but his will not really work unless there and alternative to the car. How many of you have tried to catch a tram or underground train or Southampton ? How many of you have seen the tram and underground systems in other main European cities like Munich, Düsseldorf or Prague ?

Tax planes not passengers - the tax duty would be on the plane -

  • so the plane would pay the same or even more tax the more empty it was to encourage the companies to run with a fuller aircraft.
  • it could pay more for short haul flights which at more damaging to the environment, as most fuel is used during take off and landing.
  • it could also pay more if the plane was less fuel efficient to encourage companies to use the most update engines and aircraft and technology which is often 20 or 25 years old.

The details of this duty are still been worked through but this a good indication of the some the ways the duty could be calculated.

Vehicle exercise duty - again the aim is to reduce it or even scrap it for the most environmentally friendly forms of transport and increase it for the most environmentally unfriendly forms car.

Eventually the aim would be to have road price charging, when the technology allows so vehicles pay on a per journey basis, this would even the taxes up for the rural motorist and enable the system to target particularly congested roads.

Climate change levy to have a system tradable carbon allowances is another green tax to make industry pay a charge based on the level of carbon dioxide it uses.

Another suggestion only at this stage is to have a system personal carbon allowances. So that individuals also have a tradable carbon allowance.

The whole idea behind these Green Taxes is not to raise additional tax but to change behaviour. So the extra money raised would be used to reduce taxation to other areas on things which are good for the environment and on those people on low incomes.

So that we at produce both a greener and fairer Britain.

Now are there any questions ?

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