Daniel Zeichner, MP for Cambridge, has slammed the Government for going from “climate emergency to climate complacency in a matter of weeks“ in the House of Commons this week, after Treasury Ministers defended their decision to scrap the fuel duty escaltor, a mechanism for increasing tax on polluting fossil fuels.
In response to Treasury Minister Robert Jenrick’s claim that “The price of fuel has only a marginal effect on how much fuel people purchase. That means that fuel duty freezes have a limited effect on emissions“, Mr Zeichner told Parliament that “that is not the view of most people who actually know about these things. This Government have gone from climate emergency to climate complacency in just three weeks. There is 4% extra traffic on the roads because of the scrapping of the fuel duty escalator. What fiscal mechanisms is the Treasury contemplating to deal with climate change?“
Jenrick then confirmed that the Government backs the decision made when in coalition with the Liberal Democrats to freeze fuel duty.
Mr Zeichner comments: “This is an extraordinary change in policy from a Government that talks the talk on climate change, with the Environment Secretary banning plastic drinks stirrers, but doesn’t walk the walk when it comes to using serious fiscal mechanisms to encourage behaviour change. This woeful lack of action, cancelling a programme of environmental taxes that Tory Chancellor Ken Clark brought in in the 1990s, is embarrassingly spineless in a time of climate crisis.“
“Of course, many people are bound to use cars and pay for fuel because of the poor public transport alternative in many parts of the country and poor active travel infrastructure – but this is entirely in the Government’s hands! Congestion is a major headache for motorists, and encouraging those who can to use public transport helps motorists as well as the environment. The Government should be working towards universal excellent sustainable public transport provision, and instead they’re encouraging more car use. This proves how out of touch this Government is from the issues that really matter to young people. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change called for ‘rapid, unprecedented and far-reaching transitions‘ – leaving behaviour change up to market mechanisms and spending rather than utilising the fiscal tools available betrays the truth that this Government merely pays lip service to climate change.”