Policy Exchange, UK’s leading think tank and educational charity that develops and promotes new policy ideas for better public services, has set out the case for using fiscal policies to shift motorists away from diesels and clean up air pollution in our cities. According to Richard Howard, Policy Exchange’s Head of Environment and Energy, air pollution is overwhelmingly a diesel problem and Government should encourage Autogas adoption through a fuel-duty freeze.
Government policies continue to promote diesel vehicles over alternatives. For the last 15 years, motorists have been encouraged to purchase diesel vehicles, with road tax (Vehicle Excise Duty), Company Car Tax, and Capital Allowances all geared towards lower CO2 vehicles. Consequently, diesel cars have increased from 14% of the car fleet in Great Britain in 2001, to 36% of the car fleet today.
“If we are to clean up air pollution in London and the rest of the UK, then Government needs to recognise that diesel is the primary cause of the problem, and to promote a shift away from diesel to alternatives. As part of our ongoing work on air pollution, with King’s College London, we have identified a package of measures to clean up London’s air. The analysis clearly suggests that the trend towards diesel needs to be reversed in order to bring air pollution in line with legal and healthy limits,” said Howard.
Policy Exchange’s analysis suggests that a switch towards LPG could play a role in reducing air pollution. Autogas vehicles emit far less pollutants than diesel or petrol cars, and are cheaper to run.
However, one of the barriers is that LPG fuel duty has risen much faster than duty on petrol or diesel, which may put off motorists from converting their vehicle. The Treasury could overcome this catch-22 situation by signalling in the forthcoming budget that LPG fuel duty will remain frozen for a period of time, in order to provide clarity for motorists to switch to Autogas.
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