Azara Blog: The UK public is allegedly against "green" taxes

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Date published: 2006/11/04

The BBC says:

Most voters believe "green taxes" are more about raising money than helping the environment, a BBC poll suggests.

All three main parties say they want to use the tax system to encourage more environmentally-friendly behaviour.

But the Populus poll suggests they may have a fight on their hands convincing voters there is not a hidden agenda.

Some 62% of those polled said they thought green taxes were just a revenue-raising measure and nearly half were against the idea altogether.
But of the 1,002 people interviewed by Populus on 1 and 2 November for the or BBC Two's The Daily Politics, 45% were against the idea of higher taxes on activities that cause pollution.

This is a similar figure to those polled a month ago, before the Stern report was published.

Nearly 70% said green taxes would unfairly hit poor people, while the rich would continue to drive and fly as much as before.

Polls are not to be trusted. In this case the actual anti-"green" tax figure is if anything likely to be higher. The media has been suggesting for quite some time that "green" taxes are good, and people answering opinion polls often want to be seen to be good. So the pro-"green" tax figure is probably exaggerated. (According to opinion polls, Labour won the 1992 election, because it seems people were embarrassed to admit to being Tory voters to pollsters.)

"Green" taxes are often promoted as being motivated to get people to change their behaviour, but that is silly, since the changed behaviour would of course reduce the amount of tax raised. Needless to say no government would put up with less tax, so it's not too surprising that people have concluded that other taxes will remain the same and that these new taxes are just another excuse to screw the ordinary people of Britain. You can guarantee that government ministers will continue to be driven and flown everywhere (and mostly at public expense).

Of course "green" taxes can be easily justified under the "polluter pays" principle. But then they should be set at a rate based strictly on this principle. In particular, for carbon emissions the rate should be the same no matter what the source of the carbon is. Unfortunately the only "green" taxes ever proposed by the ruling elite involve car drivers (who already pay a carbon tax) and airline passengers. For some reason all other consumer sources of carbon are ignored. So it is fairly obvious that the "polluter pays" principle is not the driving factor here.

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