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‘Wrong track’ for transport

Greens say false CO2 emissions ratings for cars have cost the UK €8bn in lost tax revenue
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
‘Wrong track’ for transport

A new report from the Greens in Europe reveals an €8bn loss in tax revenue between 2010 and 2016 due to the gap between real-life CO2 emissions from cars and the emissions in lab tests.

The report comes in the same week that figures show CO2 emissions from transport continue to rise, and that transport is now the UK’s most polluting sector.

UK among biggest tax losers

The report, which analyses revenues from car taxes in 11 EU countries, reveals that taxes would have been more than €10 billion higher in 2016 if CO2 emission values had been based on real-life values rather than laboratory measures.

The analysis shows the UK has experienced one of the biggest losses in tax revenue between 2001 to 2017. This is based on Vehicle Excise Duty (VED), which graded car tax according to official rather than real-life CO2 emissions and fuel types.

‘legislative inaction’

Molly Scott Cato, Green MEP for the South West and Green spokesperson on tax justice in the European Parliament, said that taxation based on the polluter pays principle ‘has the potential to gear up the transition to a low carbon economy’, and that ‘it can encourage a shift from cars to public transport and active travel.’

Instead, she said, ‘the shocking loss in potential tax revenue from cars has been matched by an air pollution health crisis in our cities and increasing CO2 emissions’, which are ‘driving climate breakdown’.

‘While dieselgate exposed how European car manufacturers ruthlessly used software to cheat on diesel emissions in lab tests, the fault also lies with legislative inaction on the part of the EU, national governments and their authorities.’

Green MEP for the South West

Cheaper to drive

Greens also point to the freeze in fuel tax over the same period, which has resulted in the proportion of tax from fuel tax falling from 1.9% to 1.4% of GDP between 2001 and 2016.

The cost in real terms of motoring has fallen by 14% between 1980 and 2014, while the cost of travelling by rail has risen 63% and by bus 58%.

Keith Taylor, Green MEP for the South East and member of the European Parliament’s Environment and Transport Committees, said that successive governments ‘have sent transport in Britain completely down the wrong track’.

Soaring public transport costs

Instead of prioritising the building of a transport infrastructure fit for the future, Keith Taylor MEP said Labour and the Tories have, since 1980, ‘overseen the soaring cost of bus, coach and train travel while the cost of car use has continued to drop dramatically.’

We’ve grown over-reliant on private cars as a result, and transport has become the single biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the UK.

‘This report reveals that had motoring been taxed according to the real cost to our environment and climate, the missing revenue could have been ploughed into building the integrated, modern and affordable public transport systems we so desperately need in towns and cities across the UK.’

Green MEP for the South East

The report from the Greens recommends that the most effective taxes for driving down CO2 emissions from transport and encouraging a switch to alternatives to the private car are a combination of energy taxes, a carbon tax and ‘intelligent’ road charging systems.

Click here to find out how new ‘real world’ tests could still allow illegally polluting cars on roads.

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