Brown must make his last budget green!
The Chancellor must use his final Budget on 21 March to try to salvage his green credentials say environmentalists. The call comes as both Gordon Brown and David Cameron make keynote speeches on the environment, as well as the publication of the draft Climate Change Bill.
Campaigners Friends of the Earth are urging Gordon Brown to put tackling climate change at the heart of next week's Budget by raising taxes on polluting activities and making it cheaper and easier for people to cut their emissions. Despite expressions of concern, the Chancellor has failed to make any significant contribution to reducing UK carbon dioxide emissions.
In the eight years before Labour came to power green taxes (as a percentage of overall taxes) rose from 7.8% to 9.4 %. But by 2005 (the latest year which information is available) Gordon Brown had let this percentage fall to 7.7 %.
The Chancellor abandoned the Fuel Price Escalator (an above inflation increase in fuel tax) and has frequently frozen duty on fuel. In December last year, the Government admitted that the cost of motoring has fallen in real terms by over 8 % since it came to power. Meanwhile the cost of public transport has risen: bus fares by 14 % and rail fares by 5 %.
Meanwhile carbon dioxide emissions have risen under Labour, despite repeated manifesto promises of substantial cuts. The Government's target of a 20 per cent cut in carbon dioxide (based on 1990 levels) by 2010, will not be met. The Climate Change Bill, whilst a welcome step in the right direction, needs to be backed up with financial muscle.
Friends of the Earth's director, Tony Juniper said: “Gordon Brown must use his final Budget to tackle climate change. The Chancellor's Budgets have largely been woeful. He must demonstrate that he has the political courage to lead the UK towards a low carbon economy. And he can start by making it cheaper and easier for people to cut their emissions. This must include cutting road tax for more of the most fuel efficient cars and substantially increasing it for gas-guzzlers, and a package of measures that provides strong financial incentives for householders to save energy and cut emissions. We need action not words.”
“The Chancellor must also give his backing to a strong climate change law, which must include annual cuts in carbon dioxide of at least three per cent.”
Measures the Chancellor could take include:
Substantially increasing road tax for new gas-guzzling vehicles (up to £2,000 for the most polluting vehicles), and cutting road tax to zero for more of the most fuel-efficient models;
Committing £1.4bn to fund Council Tax rebates for homes that fit insulation measures to save energy. Introducing Stamp Duty rebates for homes that are made energy efficient within six months of purchase.
Raising the funding available through the Low carbon Building Programme to at least £1bn a year to help the take-up of renewable micro-generation technologies.
Announcing a strategy for moving the UK towards a low carbon economy. This should include setting out annual carbon budgets for UK economy and policies that deliver this for all sectors
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