Opinion Former Article

Mobility tax proposed to reduce carbon

Radical proposals to tax personal mobility based on the impact of individuals’ chosen journeys on carbon emissions and congestion were set out at a meeting in Westminster on Friday.

The concept was pitched by the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership’s managing director Andy Eastlake at a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style event organised by think tank Policy Exchange.

He told a panel led by Committee on Climate Change chairman Lord Deben that emerging technology will make it possible to introduce a ‘Personal congestion and carbon travel ticket tax’ by 2030.

This, he said, could involve use of a connected and intelligent application to keep track of people’s travel habits and charge heavy carbon consumers more for their mobility.

He added that this would reward sustainable choices and embed carbon consumption into people’s mobility considerations, ultimately reducing the impact of transportation on climate change.

“Motoring has become relatively cheaper over the years and public transport – the transport we want to encourage – is becoming increasingly expensive,” he commented. “That cannot be sensible.

“By taxing transport users based on their carbon consumption I believe we can rebalance the way we think about travel and drive both the emissions and congestion impact down.”

Lord Deben questioned how the proposal could be implemented and asked: “How are you going to make people understand that the reason you have to do what will be very unpopular is because of the terribly damaging effect of climate change?”

Andy Eastlake responded: “The first step is to engage people and give them a clear way of understanding the carbon impact of their travel.”

The event also saw the benefits of hydrogen cars and car sharing discussed by vehicle manufacturer Riversimple’s chief engineer and founder Hugo Spowers and car club ZipCar’s general manager Jonathan Hampson respectively.

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