Greenness Officially In Turmoil Today

By Craigie_B Last edited 117 months ago
Greenness Officially In Turmoil Today

Greenness is certainly suffering mixed fortunes today.

For a start, Mayor Boris had originally moved to save trees, only this evening to reverse Ken's planned £25 CO2 congestion charge hike. Into the bargain he also thanked Porsche for donating their subsequent legal costs paid by Transport for London to charidee.

Meanwhile a campaign launched last week to promote London's Outdoors included the temporary siting of an Outdoor Office in St James Park, but then today London's gardeners were warned that they must take action to prevent climate change and were exorted to do ugly- or camp-sounding things like "use mulch" and "wild up your decking".

Biofuels good, biofuels bad.

It's all enough to make you, er, watch Grassroots Rugby or something.

Turmoil, we tell you, turmoil...

Picture - Londonista's own

Last Updated 08 July 2008


It's not necessarily ungreen of Boris to scrap the CO2 charge thing - it's debatable what impact the charge would have had on pollution levels in the city.

Anwyay the very notion of the congestion charge has been a terribly retrograde step. I don't get why normally sane people can't see it for what it is - a tax on the poor. Wealthy Londoners are more than happy to pay £40 a week to keep the roads clear of riff-raff, while poor people like my friend Thomas can't afford to drive into town any more and give me a lift. Likewise what's 25 quid to the kind of people who park their Hummers at the back of Selfridges to load em with Jimmy Choos?

I don't mean to be biased, I just think actions speak louder than words and Boris clearly cares more about the poor than what Ken did, that's all I'm saying.


I think that it's a fallacy to consider the proposed-now-scrapped £25 CC hike to fall within the area of "green taxes". The proposal had little real prospects of reducing pollution in any meaningful way, and had only been marketed by Ken as a "green tax" in an attempt to make it more politically palatable (which, to an extent, was a partially successful ploy).

Owning and driving a vehicle that has the potential of producing higher CO2 emissions per mile is not necessarily the same as producing more pollution. It all comes down to the emissions-class of the vehicle COUPLED WITH HOW FAR THE VEHICLE IS DRIVEN. So, for example, a "high-emissions" sports car that is only driven 2000 miles per year would produce a fraction of the CO2 emissions of a "green" hybrid car that is driven on an "average commute" to work and back every day. And yet, these falsely-named "green taxes" would actually punish the lower-polluting driver.

The only way to equitably tax people on how much they pollute is to... erm... tax people on how much they pollute. Sounds obvious, doesn't it? And yet a lot of current "green taxation" seems to focus on trying to punish people for what they own, rather than how responsibly they use it. In the face of this, it is unsurprising that many people are disillusioned with the real motives behind many "green taxes".

The most equitable way to implement a tax on the pollution caused by private vehicles is to levy the "green tax" on the fuel. The more fuel used, the more pollution produced. It's a fairly linear ratio – so taxing the fuel would accurately punish the higher polluters, without unfairly victimising the people who try to use their cars responsibly. Of course, from a political perspective, a "green tax" on fuel would be hard to sell, even if it is the most effective (and, cost-effective) way of encouraging drivers to lower their carbon footprint.

I don't know whether Boris gets this, but Ken certainly didn't. In my view he made an epic cock-up with this one, trying to crowbar a poorly-disguised "wealth tax" into what was originally supposed to be a charge on "congestion", whilst dressing it up to be "green". Three completely separate issues right there – no wonder some of us just didn't buy it!