Thursday, 4 October 2007

Carbon Emissions Taxes

I skimmed quickly through the text of David Cameron's speech at the Conservative Party Conference (, looking for references to taxes on airlines for carbon emissions, and what use these funds would be put to, but the references were vague . In an interview recently, however, he did say that these sorts of taxes would be used by the Conservatives to help reduce Income Tax, or words to that effect.

For months I've been hoping to hear one party or another tackle public transport. In his speech yesterday Mr. Cameron touched on the sad state of our railways, but then went on to talk about improving the road infrastructure. It seems logical to me that if you want to reduce carbon emissions it isn't enough to tax car drivers and airlines, because despite all the recent taxes, and the high cost of petrol, it's often still quicker and cheaper, if two or more people are travelling together, to drive rather than take the train. You're also assured of a seat, something you can't guarantee if you take a train.

I recently stopped in a motorway service area on the M1. The cafeteria had at least 4 groups of men in suits doing business. It was lunchtime, and they all had meals in front of them and laptops to the side or on their laps. Were some on their way to a conference, sharing transport and stopping for lunch and a quick confab? Were some using the service area as a halfway meeting point? Why weren't they letting the train take the strain?

If they had taken the train they could possibly have spent the whole journey preparing for whatever the purpose of their journey was. However, the only way they could guarantee seats at all would be to book them in advance, and the only way they could guarantee seats together would be to book them together in one transaction. And the cost of the journey would increase if they travelled during peak times, as it probably would if they were travelling on business. It would also multiply by the number of people travelling. By car the cost is pretty much the same regardless of time of day or numbers travelling, and of course the journey is door to door.

So why don't the political parties talk about making funds from carbon offsetting available for improving public transport? If public transport was cheaper, better managed, and a pleasanter experience, then perhaps people might feel more inclined to use it. It's also something that everyone would benefit from.

1 comment:

Christina said...

I AGREE wholeheartedly. Especially as it transpires that I will know spend most of my waking life on trains, commuting to and from work.