UK: SUV drivers face yet higher taxes
UK drivers of 'gas-guzzling' four wheel drive vehicles (SUVs) face more 'environmental' tax measures - on top of the recently announced plans to charge them more for parking and the congestion charge in London - according to reports on Friday.
The Daily Telegraph and Reuters news agency both said the government's chancellor (finance minister) Gordon Brown plans to announce new measures in next month's pre-budget report. Air travellers are also likely to face a hiked 'green' tax, the reports noted.
The Telegraph said that 'green' taxes have been eyed more closely since the recent government-commissioned Stern report called for urgent action to address climate change.
It said drivers of the most fuel-inefficient vehicles, who already now face a GBP25 daily congestion charge in London [and may soon have to pay GBP300 a year for on-street parking in the wealthy borough of Richmond], will also be hit by proposed higher taxes.
The newspaper reckoned that the decisions are likely to outrage the business community, which urged the government to resist green taxes in the wake of the report on global warming by former World Bank chief economist Nicholas Stern.
Farmers and those from rural communities also oppose the punitive approach taken towards owners of four wheel drive cars, and believe their interests are being overlooked because of the outcry by green lobbyists against 'Chelsea tractors' [the use of large SUVs in urban areas], the Daily Telegraph added.
The paper, citing a leak to the Financial Times, said the chancellor is also expected to use the pre-budget report to signal his support for an international market in carbon trading.
It noted that Brown has said harnessing the power of markets through a global carbon trading system was one of the best ways to curb the output of polluting gases.
At the end of last month, he proposed a new European Union target for emissions reductions of 30% by 2020 and 60% by 2050 and expansion of an existing carbon trading scheme to cover more than half of emissions, and also wants the EU scheme, which sets overall limits for carbon emissions but then allows businesses to trade their quotas, to be linked with Australia, California, Japan, Norway and Switzerland to set a global carbon price that fixes a clear cost for pollution.
The Daily Telegraph said business is concerned that if the UK pursues a green manifesto unilaterally, it will achieve little in reducing carbon emissions but will severely damage the nation's competitiveness, putting jobs and companies at risk.