UK Think Tank Says Gov't Should Fight Air Pollution By Taxing Diesel Vehicles More

UK Think Tank Says Gov't Should Fight Air Pollution by Taxing Diesel Vehicles More

MOSCOW (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 12th August, 2019) Amendments to the existing taxation policies can help combat air pollution in the United Kingdom, with measures including extra charge on diesel vehicles and value-added tax (VAT) exemption for ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs), a UK-based conservative think tank, Bright Blue, said Monday.

In a poll conducted for its recent report titled "Emission impossible? Air pollution, national governance and the transport sector," Bright Blue discovered that as many as 71 percent of UK residents reported being concerned about the impact of air pollution on their health and 69 percent said that the UK government should reduce the current air pollution levels.

The think tank suggested two sets of policy recommendations, one aimed at reducing air pollution from the transport sector and the other at increasing national accountability on the matter, focusing particularly on traffic-generated nitrogen dioxide emissions.

"At present, there is a higher charge faced by drivers of diesel vehicles only on their first Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) payment. After the first year of VED payment, petrol and diesel cars are subject to the same ongoing VED payments, and electric cars are fully exempt. We recommend that a diesel surcharge on ongoing VED payments be introduced in the next tax year. Together with the tiered initial payment, this would create a separate 'Diesel Excise Duty (DED), for all new diesel vehicles registered," the press release read.

Authors believe that the UK government should unfreeze the fuel tax amount, frozen since 2010, and add a surcharge to it for diesel vehicles. Additionally, the ULEVs should be exempt from VAT altogether, where ULEVs are defined as vehicles that emit less than 75 grams (2.6 oz) of carbon dioxide per 1 km (0.6 mile).

Another measure proposed by the report was to benchmark the New York City anti-idling scheme, where citizens can send to authorities photo- or video- evidence of large vehicles idling for longer than allowed by law and receive a reward totaling 25 percent of the fine.

According to the press release, charging polluting vehicles from entering certain areas called Clean Air Zones is also an effective way of combating air pollution, and local governments should be allowed to have "reasonable profits" from these charges.

The findings of the report suggested that lowering the default speed limit on all restricted roads across the United Kingdom under 1960 Road Traffic Act from 30 mph to 20 mph could as well ensure lowered amounts of pollutant emissions by vehicles, in addition to enhancing public safety.

The second set of measures stipulates that the Office for Environmental Protection or a new Committee on Clean Air should be able to perform feasibility tests of standard limits of health-harming air pollutants recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and be able to make relevant recommendations to the parliament. Additionally, the local governments should be legally required to ensure compliance with this levels within their geographic area of responsibility, the press release added.

In January, the UK government introduced its new air pollution reduction program, the Clean Air Strategy, in line with WHO recommendations and EU standards. It stipulated that the United Kingdom ban sales of conventional gasoline and diesel vehicles starting from 2040, provide financial support to farmers so that they invest more in equipment and techniques that produce fewer emissions, and curb sales of most polluting fuels, among other measures.

On June 27, the United Kingdom became the first country to enshrine a net zero carbon emission target by 2050 in law.

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