Azara Blog: So-called green taxes allegedly more than cover the associated environmental damage

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Date published: 2007/09/03

The BBC says:

The government is raising billions of pounds more in green taxes than it needs to remove the UK's "carbon footprint", a report says.

The Taxpayers' Alliance said emissions in 2005 had done damage worth an estimated £11.7bn, but green taxes and charges in that year had made £21.9bn.

It claimed ministers were "cynically" raising revenue rather than using the money to improve the environment.

But the Treasury said the pressure group's claims were "ridiculous".

But the Taxpayers' Alliance said the £11.7bn figure covered the "social cost" of climate change to the world, such as weather changes and related disasters.

It added that UK green taxes should not exceed this figure.

The group also said that, on average, UK households were "over-paying" £400 a year.

Fuel duty and vehicle excise duty were between 30 and 40 times higher than the level needed to cover estimates of the social cost of CO2 emissions.
[I]t said the landfill tax was raising up to £620m more than was needed to meet the social costs of methane emissions from landfill.
... But a Treasury spokesman said: "The government's definition of environmental taxes includes those taxes that are designed to primarily have an environmental impact - the climate change levy, aggregates levy and landfill tax.

"We make clear, for example, when setting fuel duty rates that the Government takes into account a range of factors, including costs of motoring such as congestion, and the need to maintain sound public finances.

The Taxpayers' Alliance is just pointing out the obvious. Unfortunately most of the ruling elite (including the BBC) are in denial about this, so the obvious does need pointing out. Of course whether the Taxpayers' Alliance has done their sums correctly is another matter (and you can bet your last pound that the so-called enviromentalists would manage to come up with much bigger figures for social costs, at least for those activities they don't like -- they seem to be magically blind about the social cost of activities they do like).

And of course green taxes (especially petrol duty) serve to fill government coffers. Blair always admitted this (it was one of the few things he was honest about). And the Treasury seems to be happy to admit this as well. And fair enough, someone has to pay for all the services that the chattering classes insist the government should provide. But it is indeed a bit ridiculous that car drivers are deemed to be the one class of citizen who should carry a crazily disproportionate burden, while London (and other) train commuters pay negative taxes (they not only do not pay for the social costs of their journeys, they don't even pay for the operational costs).

And if the Taxpayers' Alliance thinks it is bad under Labour, they should pause to think how bad it would be under the Tories or the Lib Dems, who have both promised they would pile on the so-called green taxes.

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