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Green Taxes

You could argue that on this website we are something of environmentalists but not one of what we regard as the raving lunatic fringe that are prepared to live in a tree or whatever to make a point.

We are a lot more pragmatic than that and we like our creature comforts too much.

Usually we don't make too much of a big deal out of this and we tend to keep a lot of our opinions on environmental matters fairly restrained, at least in public as, these days, the environment is sitting in there with other subjects that are taboo to debate in an after dinner conversation just like religion and politics.

The problem, it appears to us, is that the environment has become almost a new religion of sorts and is highly politicised these days and so can offend and incense very easily. Due to this we have a tendency only to recite facts or simply avoid the issue should the subject arise in conversation which it invariably does.

But this week after the budget we couldn't help but think... what?

We just didn't get it at all and felt compelled to write about the "green taxes" that are being levied.

Okay so more tax on big gas guzzling cars, fine, we've no problem with that as if you can afford to run a Range Rover then why shouldn't you pay a little more tax.

Fuel, no increase, well we should hope not but we'll go into that in depth later.

Green taxes, says David Cameron, should be spent on health! This and the other ways in which taxes being levied to supposedly help the environment not being used to help the environment are what had me sitting there thing just, what?

Okay let's think about this, we're getting taxed more to help to protect and save our environment were being told, right? Yet the revenue raised from this additional tax burden which exists, it seems, on virtually anything that uses electricity or a carbon based fuel, is being used to fund care homes, the health service and goodness knows what else but it certainly is not being used to help the environment.

The environmentalist lobbies would have us believe that putting up the cost of fuel, again, will somehow magically get us out our cars or make us think about excessive use of them. Well, wake up folks, we already don't use the car unless we have to and have you any concept of the effect that this irrational and ill-conceived policy is having? It's like a knee-jerk reaction to a small part of the problem if your intent is to lower carbon emissions; transportation is by far and away not the largest creator of carbon emissions. Sure, it's a part of it, but us driving an extra few miles is not going to cause the demise of an innocent polar bear.

No the real pressing problem lay elsewhere if you want to pursue this line but we think that the environment lobby is actually fighting the wrong battle.

  Is Government Really Eco-Friendly?

if you want to argue that the government (pick one from anywhere, they all seem lost on this subject) is trying to help the environment by the likes of higher fuel taxes we'd say, poppycock or words to that effect. They seem not to care about the environment or just pay it lip service.

Let us explain.

Most governments around the world have levied taxes on fuels of all sorts as well as making business pay to clean up the mess, such as is the intent at least with the WEEE Directive and yet we keep asking myself the question, where is all this extra money going and how is it being used to help the environment.

So far, since this subject first hit the headlines in the 1990's we've had green taxes or levies which simply must add up to untold billions of dollars or pounds. Where's the money? What was it spent on? What has the environment gained from it? What has more sustainable businesses gained from it?

When you start digging about it is very, very hard to find any conclusive answers to those questions. We failed to find any.

In a flight of fancy however we were sat thinking one day about the seminal summer blockbusters, the disaster movies and we recalled the summer of a few years back where we had two movies about huge asteroids about to wipe out life on the planet. So, what happened was that the heroes saved the day of course but the point is that the government (US in this case admittedly) poured every resource into averting disaster, spared no expense and built new technologies to combat this impending disaster. We do believe that were such a situation to actually come to pass that this is exactly what all the governments of the world would do, we would expect them to do so and do everything within their power to avoid catastrophe.

And this leads us to the interesting bit, for us at least, about so called Global Warming or climate change as it has been toned down to be now it appears.

Governments have billed this as a huge catastrophe that is about to befall mankind almost being billed as some sort of divine retribution because we drive a BMW or whatever. Okay, if we accept that then what is exactly that government is going to or is doing about this global threat to our existence then?

Tax us more and spend all the money, not on looking at ways to solve the problem that has instigated the taxation but in totally unrelated areas? Is it just us or is this not making any sense?

Surely, if climate change is such an impending catastrophe, just like a huge asteroid that is about to wipe out all life then government's efforts should be concentrated on finding solutions to that problem?

But they're not, are they?

If they were serious we'd see massive investment into alternative energy, massive investment into researching and developing new technologies to replace fossil based carbon fuels and wed see investment into sustainable programs and business. But we don't.

No, instead government has decided that the money raised through "green taxation" is to be used to shore up other crisis's that are entirely unrelated.

As voters, taxpayer, business owners and environmentalists we feel a little betrayed by government/s.

  Fuel Duty Helps The Environment

On the face of it this would perhaps seem a reasonable concept, one most people can grasp and it's easy to get across in the media, but when you dig into it in some ways it makes no sense.

For a start we have the previous section to consider, that the revenues raised are not being spent doing anything about the actual problem but we sat and asked ourselves, is this actually doing harm?

Our conclusion was that yes, in some ways, it is.

Take our service industry for example. Fuel prices rise and, as we have to travel we must also increase prices to compensate. On the other hand we have countries like China pumping out cheaper and cheaper goods (in our case appliances) that people start to regard as almost disposable commodities as they are so cheap.

So by increasing the costs to repair these products government actually make repair a less alternative option and people replace them due to high maintenance costs, this is especially evident at the cheaper end of the marketplace. This feeds pollution and emissions in low labour cost countries in the production of more goods and sends more to recycling or landfill.

You tell us, how is this helping the environment?

Of course this isn't going to be unique to the appliance industry just think of that leaking tap or central heating system that isn'¢t quite running right all of which will waste resources but people won't have looked at because it is too expensive to call someone out.

Whether it actually is too expensive or not isn't relevant, people's perception is.

In some ways you have to ultimately conclude that raising fuel duties continually is actually counter productive in some areas. Sure, it might put off day trippers from driving to the seaside for a picnic but from what we can see it accomplishes little else save fill the exchequer's coffers.

  People Aren't Entirely Stupid

We often think, watching the news or listening and reading political rhetoric that the media and politicians think we're all stupid. Possibly many are, but just as many if not more are not and people will, eventually, see through all this.

If climate change is the problem that we are being told that it is, if it is such a huge threat to our very existence then why is it that governments are not doing more to combat the problem? Why are we not seeing breakthrough technologies that can sever our dependency on fossil fuels?

We don't see these as being unreasonable questions. As voters and taxpayers we think we should have the right to ask them, we think that they should be asked and we think that people should know where these green taxes are being spent.

We can build massively complex computer systems that can supposedly predict that the end is nigh through modelling the hugely complex and variable weather for the next few centuries. We can come up with revised theories of what will happen and how flooded Norfolk will be and yet we can't come up with a car that isn't dependent on fossil fuel, how come? Why can we not do this, after all we should have billions of pounds to spend looking for an answer and we have some pretty clever people in the UK, we're sure that we could find a solution.

People aren't stupid, eventually these questions will be asked and, we suspect that when they are, answers will be rather thin on the ground.

But in the end we will only find that solution if we actually bother to look for one.

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