What a shameful expression of human selfishness the boycott the pumps policy
is. I'm a motorist - at times - but I wouldn't begin to suggest that the
Government is putting up petrol prices just to squeeze more money from me.
As a citizen I know that fuel tax rises are an essential part of policy to
tackle climate change, which regardless of its effects on me, represents the
gravest environmental threat facing the world and my children and
grandchildren (the BTP lobby wouldn't know and certainly don't care about
that to read the selfish abusive material they have been posting
on the Internet and writing to the papers.)
Road transport as is the second fastest growing British source of carbon
dioxide (CO2), the main climate change gas (DETR: Draft UK Climate Change
Strategy). Higher fuel taxes, together with tax incentives to buy more fuel
efficient cars, could if the government has the courage to maintain them,
deliver nearly a quarter of the Government's forecast reduction in CO2
Nor is it just tax rises that push up petrol prices since the price of
petrol is affected by other factors, such as the price of crude oil, which
is determined by the OPEC countries. This has gone up substantially in
recent months. However the price of crude oil has just dropped, which could
lead to petrol price cuts if oil companies pass on the savings to customers.
Drivers do not pay over the odds. In fact the reason I am writing to my MP
asking him to ensure that fuel taxes are not reduced is because motorists
pay nothing like the real cost of their motoring. Research has estimated the
total cost of road transport to the environment at £42 billion per year
(Maddison et al Blueprint for a Green Economy (1996). This compares with tax
raised from road transport of £23 billion per year (HM Treasury).
Nor is driving a car getting more expensive. With few exceptions among
people suffering real hardship I wish it were. It might bring more of these
feckless people to their senses. Government figures (this and the last
government's) show that the cost of motoring has not changed in real terms,
after inflation, in the last 25 years. Train fares on the other hand have
gone up by 53% and bus fares by 87% ( DETR: Quality of Life Counts -
Indicators for a Strategy for Sustainable Development).
Finally cutting petrol prices will not solve motorists' problems or the
problems they cause other road users (such as pedestrians and cyclists)
because cheaper fuel will do nothing to tackle congestion, nor will it
address problems such as air pollution and accidents.
My one hope is that over the next 10 years decent people will make sensible
decisions about where they live, where they send their children to school,
where they shop and how they do business that will reduce their need for
such constant long car journeys with all the consequences for society and
the world that accompany this unsustainable way of life.
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