Gordon Brown’s Budget, which is being touted as ‘the greenest ever’, is anticipated to increase Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) on 4x4s to £400 – an increase on the current level of £200. But environmental groups argue that when a motorist is prepared to spend £40,000 on a new car, such a small additional amount is not enough to encourage more sustainable purchases.
Tony Juniper, Director of Friends of the Earth which is calling for a minimum of a £2000 road tax on the most polluting vehicles, described the Chancellor’s previous budgets as ‘woeful’. He said:
‘The Chancellor 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.’
Friends of the Earth’s campaigners are also calling for a reintroduction of the fuel-tax escalator, which caused riots in 2000 as hauliers went on strike over the cost of diesel.
Gordon Brown is also expected to provide incentives for ‘green homes’, including measures to exempt money made from selling electricity generated at home from income tax, and offering exemptions from stamp duty for ‘carbon neutral’ homes. Friends of the Earth would like to see this exemption applied ‘retrospectively’, for homeowners who work to make their homes more energy efficient as soon as they move in.
This article first appeared in the Ecologist March 2007