Daniel Zeichner, MP for Cambridge, has branded the Government “pathetic navel-gazers“ when it comes to tackling climate change, as a right-wing thinktank publishes a report advocating vehicle fuel taxes.
Mr Zeichner says “The Treasury have been claiming for months that fuel duty doesn’t affect consumption and therefore doesn’t have an impact on the climate change – they should listen to their own thinktanks, as even their Tory friends know better. The Conservatives must stop this negligence and put measures in place to incentivise public transport use – including improving services, lowering prices for tickets, and looking at the fuel duty escalator again.“
The conservative thinktank, Bright Blue, calls for a rise in vehicle fuel taxes, an extra charge on diesel and VAT to be abolished on electric cars. It also advocates for citizens to be able to report idling vehicles and receive a share of fines levied. It proposes that the speed limit in all urban areas is cut from 30mph to 20mph and that local authorities should be able to profit from pollution charging schemes to fund clean-air projects.
Mr Zeichner has raised the issue of vehicle fuel taxes in Parliament numerous times, with Ministers claiming that “fuel duty freezes have a limited effect on emissions“ and confirming the Government’s support for the decision made when in coalition with the Liberal Democrats to freeze fuel duty.
Mr Zeichner comments: “The Government are in denial, sticking their heads in the sand when it comes to emissions and climate change. Their 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 – and now even Conservative thinktanks disagree with them. It’s time they got moving on tackling climate change seriously – it’s too urgent to ignore.“
“Currently, lots of people are bound to use cars and pay for fuel because public transport provision and active travel infrastructure is so poor in many parts of the country – 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.“