Claire Haigh – chief executive of Greener Journeys, a coalition of the UK’s main public transport organisations: Britain has committed to a target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. But speculation is growing that fuel duty could be cut in an emergency pre-election budget next month. At a time when “hottest year” records are now routinely broken, should the prime minister contemplate cutting fuel duty? Road transport is the most polluting sector of the economy, accounting for more than a quarter of our greenhouse gas emissions. It is the only big sector where emissions are rising, largely due to growing demand for car and van travel. Since 2011, fuel duty has been frozen. This means the price of fuel at the pump has been cut by 13 per cent in real terms. The fuel duty escalator was introduced in 1993 as an environmental tax, to stem the increase in pollution from road transport. If we are serious about tackling climate change and air pollution, we cannot contemplate cutting such taxes. Instead, we should be raising them. The consequences of the freeze since 2011 have been: a 4 per cent increase in road traffic; 4.5 million tonnes of CO2 emissions; the release of 12,000 tonnes of harmful nitrogen oxides and 816 tonnes of polluting particles known as PM10s; and up to 200 million fewer bus journeys and 60 million fewer rail journeys. Fuel duty should be linked to inflation in future budgets. The money raised from increases in fuel duty should be ring-fenced to encourage the switch to electric vehicles and to boost the use of public transport.
Times 28th Aug 2019 read more »