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London Launching Consultation on Higher Charges for Gas Guzzlers

The Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, announced that Transport for London will start a consultation on Friday on a scheme to charge the cars that emit the greatest amount of greenhouse gases—such as the “Chelsea tractors” (SUVs), some high powered sports cars and expensive luxury vehicles—up to £25 (US$51) per day to drive in the present central London Congestion Charging Zone. (Earlier post.) The zone covers parts of Westminster, and Kensington and Chelsea.

Cars driving outside the present congestion charging zone will not be affected. Within the congestion charging zone, the highest CO2 emitting cars, which represent just 8% of cars registered in London, would face the higher £25 charge and lose their entitlement to the residents’ discount.

Some of the worst examples produce two or three times as much greenhouse gases as the average family car.

The great majority of drivers within the zone would be unaffected and the least polluting vehicles will receive a 100% discount and not pay any congestion charge at all.

The proposed new charges are as follows:

  • Low-CO2 emitting cars will receive a 100% discount (£0). Includes cars in Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) Bands A and B (less than 120g CO2 per km) which also meet Euro 4 air quality standard.

  • The majority of cars—VED Bands C, D, E and those in F with emissions up to 225g CO2 per km—will continue to pay exactly the same daily charge as at present: £8.

  • The highest CO2 emitting cars—VED Band G and equivalent vehicles (above 225g CO2 per km), as well as those registered pre March 2001 with engines larger than 3,000 cc—will pay £25 a day.

Transport—excluding aviation—accounts for 22% of London’s CO2 emissions, with cars accounting for nearly half of this. According to a poll conducted by MORI for the Mayor, 64% of Londoners think the most polluting cars should pay a higher congestion charge.

The consultation will start on 10 August and end on 19 October.

Comments

DieselHybrid

Consider what would happen if large metropolitan US centers adopted similar charges (taxation)!? $51 per day to drive a large SUV or pick-up truck would generate a lot of sorely needed revenue to rebuild our nation's bridges and roadways.

Rural areas and farms (where large vehicles actually may serve a real purpose) would be exempt, of course. Conceivably, these charges would only affect urban/suburbanites who insist on driving over-sized vehicles merely for reasons of preference (i.e. appearance of status/prestige) vice necessity.

If CAFE is any precedent, Detroit + Toyota would lobby hard to defeat any such measures here in the US.

Cervus

I think you'd have a huge outcry with regular people, too. Vehicles that size are much more common here. NYC has already run into problems implementing its own congestion charge plan.

critta

I know some some would see this as an intrusion on their personal liberty but liberty shouldn't extend to the freedom to add extra pollution to the environment.

DieselHybrid: it would be even better if most of that revenue went into new public transport systems instead of reinforcing the infrastructure of road based fossil fuel tranportation

Cervus: There will be opposition but the history of most significant change is that it gets knocked back lots of times before it succeeds.

Cervus

Critta:

We live in a representative democracy. If such a tax represents the will of the people, that's one thing. If it's being simply imposed for the sake of "the common good" without the support of the public, that's quite another.

jack

We live in a representative democracy. If such a tax represents the will of the people, that's one thing. If it's being simply imposed for the sake of "the common good" without the support of the public, that's quite another.

By that criteria, pretty much most things that get passed through legislatures are "quite another" thing. The "will of the people" is also a farce, especially in a nation where people are uninformed, manipulated, and/or apathetic.

BlackSun

This amounts to a post-sale feebate. Which is an excellent way of discouraging inefficient vehicles. Even better would be a feebate taken at the time of vehicle purchase. Bring it on.

Cervus

Jack:

Frankly, passing taxes like this without public support amounts to tyranny. It ultimately doesn't matter if people are uninformed. Our representatives in our legislatures are supposed to represent the will of their constituents. In my own state, we rejected (by referendum) a new tax on in-state oil production last year.

If the people of London supports this, fine. If not, what right does their government have to impose this tax?

Scatter

Tyranny? Hardly. We wouldn't have any taxes if they were decided by a popular vote. Tell me how many taxes have been introduced in your state by referendum?

Nor is it a restriction of liberties. Because no one's stopping you from doing anything. You'll be able to drive around London all day but either you'll have to pay to do it in a high emission car or you can swap the car for something cleaner and not pay (and save money day to day). It's quite simple.

andrichrose

Good on you Ken !
Pity he´s not got the prime minister´s job

tom

Scatter.

I live in Colorado. Under state law, all the tax increases over the last several years have been subject to a vote of the people. Most of them have passed. So, at least here, when people are presented with a common sense need to increase taxes, they respond. This includes money for things like open space and even carbon taxes in Boulder, Colorado.

While I support high taxes on gas guzzling, co2 spewing vehicles, especially in the city where they make no sense anyway, it still should be recognized that London is only addressing a small part of the overall problem. What is being done to address the other 80% of the CO2 problem?

With respect to these taxes, London sorely needs to upgrade its tube system due to massive overcrowding at this time. For those like me, who desire to use public transportation, it is very frustrating to try to take a subway and not even be able to get on the train because of overcrowding.

Scatter

Good work. That's a good system. But tax increases are one thing and wholly new taxes are another. The congestion charge would never have been introduced if it had been put to the vote!

London is addressing the rest of the problem. It is fast becoming a world leader for implementing progressive policies on climate change. The aim is 20% reduction by 2010 and 60% by 2050 (1990 B/L). Check out the LCCA website for more information:

http://www.lcca.co.uk/server/show/nav.005001

I agree the tube is in bad need of an overhaul - an upgrade will be more or less impossible. It (along with most of the rest of the UK's transport infrastructure) is badly suffering after decades of underinvestment. Cross Rail (http://www.crossrail.co.uk/) will help but there's a lot of work to be done.

Rush hour can certainly be unpleasant on some of the lines but on others it's fine and away from rush hour it's a quick and efficient way to travel. Londoners grumble about it a lot but it's the oldest and one of the largest underground systems in the world. It's over 150 years old!

jack

Jack:

Frankly, passing taxes like this without public support amounts to tyranny. It ultimately doesn't matter if people are uninformed. Our representatives in our legislatures are supposed to represent the will of their constituents. In my own state, we rejected (by referendum) a new tax on in-state oil production last year.

If the people of London supports this, fine. If not, what right does their government have to impose this tax?

You miss what I first said. If you apply this "counter to the will of the majority" = tyranny logic, then pretty much everything done by government -- particularly federal and state -- is tyrannical. It would be an endless list to show legislation and/or policy that goes counter to what the majority want or need. That you have an obsessive focus on taxes indicates that you don't actually have a concern for "tyranny" but rather for a notion that taxes are confiscatory.

tthoms

Honestly, I'm not sure this legislation makes sense. I can see having a congestion charging zone (even though I may not agree with it) in an area where pollution is particularly high, or the roads simply cannot handle the amount of traffic.
However, basing the tax on CO2 output doesn't make sense. If you believe in AGW, CO2 is not toxic on a local scale, it has a global effect, and charging larger CO2 emitters extraordinary amounts of money if they drive within a small radius of land seems ineffective. I suspect this is either "feel-good" legislation, or just another attempt at extracting more cash from the constituants. I suppose time will tell.

Jack says ... "That you have an obsessive focus on taxes indicates that you don't actually have a concern for "tyranny" but rather for a notion that taxes are confiscatory."

Don't feed the troll Cervus.

jack

Don't feed the troll Cervus.

Hi, TThoms. Trolling?

Cervus

Jack:

I did not miss what you first said. I disagree with it. I do think that taxation without the consent of the public is a confiscatory practice and tantamount to government theft.

A Google search for Londoner opinions, a poll from March 2003 shows that 2/3 of Londoners agreed that the congestion charge successfully reduced traffic. Now, this revised congestion charge may actually be popular. Ergo, it's not confiscatory.

Cervus

Jack:

I did not miss what you first said. I disagree with it. I do think that taxation without the consent of the public is a confiscatory practice and tantamount to government theft.

A Google search for Londoner opinions, a poll from March 2003 shows that 2/3 of Londoners agreed that the congestion charge successfully reduced traffic. Now, this revised congestion charge may actually be popular. Ergo, it's not confiscatory.

Cervus

Ouch. Server hiccup.

jack

I did not miss what you first said. I disagree with it. I do think that taxation without the consent of the public is a confiscatory practice and tantamount to government theft.

Precisely, and that's why you ignore the basically commonplace rejection of the "will of the people" pretty much everywhere. To get worked up about it in a specific case that just so happens to be an important axe that you grind means that your supposed outrage that the "will of the people" isn't being followed is actually a conditional outrage.

For example, what percentage of the population think that taxes are confiscatory and tantamount to theft? I can guarantee you it's a minority position, to be generous. Yet I am certain that you would be more than happy if the government were to eliminate most forms of taxation and spending, despite the fact that the "will of the people" would want otherwise.

The "will of the people" would much rather have $2.50 going to the government and $0.50 going to oil producers for every gallon of gasoline, instead of the other way around, and this could probably be accomplished with aggressive taxation over a limited amount of time, yet today the president claimed that a 5 cent, 3 year temporary increase in the federal gas tax for fixing bridges is out of the question, as it would "hurt the economy."

When you live in a plutocracy, it doesn't do much good to be selective in your outrage over the fact that democracy is a marketing slogan, not reality.

Cervus

Jack:

And this is the point where an endless verbal tennis match starts and we spend the next 50 posts sniping at one another because we disagree on fundamentals. I'll pass, thanks. In my experience it's not worth the time and energy.

jack

And this is the point where an endless verbal tennis match starts and we spend the next 50 posts sniping at one another because we disagree on fundamentals. I'll pass, thanks. In my experience it's not worth the time and energy.

Not sure what "fundamentals" you're referring to. You first expressed outrage that somehow you felt the "will of the people" wasn't being honored, that we live in a democracy, etc. I simply replied that the "will of the people" is rarely, if ever, honored, and even when it is, the notion that the "will of the people" reflects an informed, engaged, rational electorate is also without real basis.

So, your outrage was simply a function of what "will" you felt was being thwarted, not the fact that democracy wasn't working.

Point is, you're perfectly entitled to your biases, opinions, ideology, or whatever, but please don't couch it in something that isn't what it really is.

Michael

I would support this if there were some exemption for small tradesmen and delivery trucks. They really need access to inner cities to do their work. Of course it would be great if they used the smallest size vehicles or better yet electric trucks that would accommodate their goods and tools but every trade and delivery business has different space and payload needs.

Rafael Seidl

The proposed change will affect *only* vehicles in the so-called G band, defined as > 225g CO2/km in the NEDC. In US terms, that's any vehicle achieving less than ~25MPG on gasoline or ~28MPG on diesel. Given that fuel costs are over $7/US gallon either way in London, only quite affluent people can afford to own and operate such vehicles as it is.

The likely result will be a switch to even more expensive vehicles offering similar performance and luxury but emitting substantially less CO2. London might be Europe's test market for MB's DiesOtto and GM's Volt. Alternatively, new high-end shared chauffeur services may spring up, permitting passengers to split the congestion charge. Market externals are a proven way to influence consumer behavior, even if tripling an already high tax overnight is fairly draconian.

For vehicles emitting less than 225gCO2/km, the congestion charge will remain at GBP 8, with exemptions for residents. Vehicles emitting less than 120gCO2/km will be exempt altogether, which actually makes little sense if the objective is a reduction in traffic volume.

tthoms

Rafael:

Not being very familiar with London, is the given area a residential, financial, or business district? The only way I see people "upgrading" their vehicles is if they live there, or they had to go to work there every day. Even so, I really don't see this affecting CO2 emissions or, as you stated, releving congestion. It just appears to be another tax.

jack

Even so, I really don't see this affecting CO2 emissions or, as you stated, releving congestion. It just appears to be another tax.

"In 2006 the latest report from TfL stated that congestion was down around 26% in comparison with the pre charge period and traffic delays had also been reduced."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_congestion_charge#Effects

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