in General

If you can’t solve it, tax it.

This week, Sir Nicholas Stern, former chief economist at the World Bank, wrote a damning report (The Stern Review) on how the world would face an economic collapse, similar to that of a World War or world-wide depression if climate change was not averted; affecting people, resources and the whole world as a whole.

Naturally, no everyone is happy. Not just because it means a drastic change in behavior, but because it means that we’re gonna get taxed. Taxed a lot more than we are now, and much more in the future. Is it just another tax dressed up as “environmentalism” as many proponents claim? And will the new taxes really change behavior? And will any changes we make as a country make any jot of difference?

The “fuel escalator” of the early/late 90’s saw the price of petrol and diesel rising, and in the future it will continue to rise, beyond the point of inflation and will drive us from the car into other forms of public transit, or try to covert our cars from lead based fuel to a much more environmentally friendly fuel such as LPG, ethanol, bio-mass or hydrogen. The problem with these fuels is only a few have been proven, whilst the others will either cause rain forest deforestation or cause even worse problems for us.

Depending on who you listen to, climate change is either happening, or it isn’t. I do believe man is having an effect on the earth, and we do have to change our ways. Overpopulation, landfill space and resource depletion are major worries for me – although having said that, I don’t believe that the Earth will turn into a “Soylent Green” world, even if “Peak Oil” does hit and throws us all back into the stone age.

Those who subscribe to the idea that climate change isn’t happening maybe right, but the price of failure is just too high. There is a way to get the people who don’t believe that climate change is happening on side, and that’s simply to change the subject to environmental issues rather than climate issues.

Working with the anti-climate change lobby, you could start by solving the landfill problem, the recycling issue, ideas to limit worldwide population, increase spending on zero-point-fuel, increasing air, land, water quality around the world; these are things that we should all join forces for — what does it matter if the issue is climate change, or well-managed environmentalism?

If the Government was really, truly and fundamentally serious about climate change it would start by ensuring all new buildings would have issued every household 5 free energy saving light bulbs. The Government should “walk the walk” and have a general fund to increase better insulation, enable the general public to install solar panels on their roofs, and write into law that every building should recycle rain water.

Government should lead the way, and that means no more jet-setting around the world, no more “Two Jags”, and increase home-grown production of food and goods. This means reducing in shipping items from half way around the world and allowing growth into new industries and creating more business opportunities from the new changes that we must all make.

The thing is, I don’t believe the Government is serious at all about environmentalism; by the time of the next election it will be a big issue — and already the Government has made a master stroke by asking who can tax the general public the most about environmentalism; and if you don’t you’re weak on the environment and are sticking your head in the sand. So, in short – you either agree with us that the environment is an issue, or not be voted in power.

Taxing us is the wrong thing to do and I agree with the Green Party when they say that any climate change laws/taxes should be carrot based, not stick lead. I want to see easy, low-cost initiatives that drive change much faster than a “tax on environmental behavior”, I want to see laws that prevent high carbon emission products being shipped in, being produced or sold in this country; but it must be a joined up measure.

Taxing us out of our cars without a super-fast, reliable and low-cost rail system (hopefully using Maglev technology) will take years to create and replace our humble car, and the Government must promise that any green tax funds be ring-fenced, be accountable and be reviewed annually by an independent body, who will issue big fines to the Government if it spends one slice dime of green tax money on fixing the black hole in the NHS, pensions or any other hole that Gordon Brown has dug himself into.

The thing is, our behavior does need changing, I just don’t agree with the way it’s been done, and I believe at the next election the party that reforms personal responsibility and behavior with incentives rather than hitting us with a tax-based stick will win the next election.