Ask schoolchildren about the environment and they will probably know more than you do, added to which they are probably more enthusiastic about preventing global warming. Ask some old man like me the same question and he will tell you that he’s sick of it, it is used as a stick to beat us with, it is used as a means of extracting more taxes, and when about 80% of the world’s population has absolutely no intention of doing anything about it, fiddling about with solar panels on the roof, driving at fixed speeds, and all the other plethora of things they heap on us, isn’t going to make a jot of difference. People I’ve spoken to tell me it has got to start somewhere.. Okay! But why does everything seem to have to start here? I won’t give you the list it is too long. I know that what follows will never come to pass, until it’s too late. What seems obvious to most people, would appear to be considered absurd by governments, if their actions are a gauge, and so things get done when they become more complicated and dearer, because governments have other agendas, reviews, white papers, and U turns.
Take transport for example, we are constantly being badgered about how we can save the environment by driving this car and not that, driving this way and not that’ When all the time we shouldn’t be driving at all, we should be using public transport, most people did up until the mid-50s, and they were happy with the situation. Then they took away the trains, people had more money and wanted to be free to get up and go when it suited them, not when they had to meet a bus schedule. One thing has been evident throughout the years, the government draws a tremendous amount of tax from the motor industry and people using cars as transport, so there clearly isn’t an incentive to underwrite a tremendously sophisticated public transport system, which would meet the needs of most reasonable people. I find it totally ironic that the government at the present time in Northern Ireland is bringing out legislation that planning and the sale of houses has CO2-saving elements, when the roads are burgeoning with one-man-one-car, with children being taken to school, only short distances in a car. This sort of reasoning defeats credulity, and I think it is widening to include the whole country. There is no shadow of doubt that to create a comprehensive, integrated public transport system would not be cheap. But on the other hand the sooner it is done the better, because it will be done eventually anyway.
To my mind, although I have not costed it, by the time you take into account the rising cost of fuel which will be inevitable, the increased road works with flyovers, multiple lanes etc, to cater for the the heavy lorry and trailer combinations, there probably won’t be a saving, because the government will no longer be able to draw on the same taxes on insurance, licenses, fuel and vehicles, they will have reduced. One other consequence will be that there will be once again, more small shops in town centres and locally, and land available for building, because the car parks at supermarkets will be empty. There is one other certainty, Gordon Brown will be pleased, because he’s exhorting us to exercise more, and by the nature of the system we will have to walk a lot more, like we did all those years ago, so it cannot be all bad. It will probably never happen!
Just to demonstrate the bizarre thinking of our various political parties, this notion of differential taxation, according to size and fuel consumption already exists, because the gas-guzzlers cost more and use more fuel, so those drivers are already being differentially taxed. Bringing in another tier of taxation is only going to add work for the licensing offices, and, all the time we have the mummy run, make little difference.