Increase fuel duty tax to tackle air pollution, suggests think tank

Fuel duty should be increased to tackle air pollution in the UK, according to a conservative think tank.

Bright Blue outlined a number of suggestions, including lowering targets for air pollutants, adding further taxes to discourage diesel use, exempting low-emission vehicles from road tax and rewarding citizens for reporting idling drivers.

William Nicolle, researcher at Bright Blue, said: “Stronger evidence has emerged in recent years about the detrimental impact of air pollution to human health, the economy and the environment.

Fuel prices

“Consequently, there is growing public and political pressure for tougher action to reduce levels of air pollution in the UK. The UK’s departure from the EU means that there is an opportunity to raise air pollution standards in the UK.”

One of its suggestions is to remove the existing freeze on fuel duty so it can be increased from the next tax year. It also suggests adding a further surcharge on diesel at the pumps as well as on the annual vehicle excise duty (VED) cost.

Under current legislation, new diesels only face a higher charge in the first year of registration.

From our latest report #emissionimpossible

Concern about the impact of air pollution on the health of a respondent and others, by 2017 General Election vote.

— Bright Blue (@WeAreBrightBlue) August 12, 2019

However, in November last year, the average CO2 emissions of new vehicles sold in the UK increased for the first time since 2000. Industry body Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) blamed this on the ‘anti-diesel agenda’.

Speaking at the time, Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT, said: “The anti-diesel agenda has set back progress on climate change, while electric vehicle demand remains disappointingly low amid consumer concerns around charging infrastructure availability and affordability.

“To accelerate fleet renewal, motorists must have the confidence to invest in the cleanest cars for their needs – however they are powered.”

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