Monday, 21 May 2007

World's largest 'Low Emission Zone’

Ken Livingstone, Greater London’s Mayor, has approved plans for the ‘World's largest Low Emission Zone’ on May the 3rd 2007, to be launched in February 2008.

The stated aim is to reduce harmful emissions from the most polluting (large diesel vehicles)lorries/trucks, coaches and buses by ‘encouraging’ operators to clean up their fleets. Sounds ok so far...

Initially the Low Emission Zone will apply to lorries/trucks over 12 tonnes.

Broadening in scope by July 2008, to take in lighter lorries/trucks, buses, coaches, and other other heavy vehicles.

How is this all to come about? Surprise, surprise - an enormous charge/tax of £200 for each day vehicles that don’t meet the standards enter the zone.

You can register your vehicle, but don’t worry if you don’t, as Transport for London (TfL) will use data you previously provided for other reasons to other agencies and organisations such as:

Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA)
Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA)
Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT)

to decide if your vehicle meets the emissions standards.

There is no real mention of the possible economic costs of imposing the zone. It is difficult to imagine that the costs of becoming compliant will not be substantial and in the end, be passed on to those who live and work in London.

More disturbing still is the harvesting of information, previously provided to others for entirely different purposes (presumably in confidence), to be used against the providers.

Also the fact that, if TfL decide, based on the information, that you are a polluter - even if you are not, you will have to prove it.

Taxing viewing?

Professor Paul Ekins, of the University of Westminster, speaking at a news conference in London, concerning the government's forthcoming Energy White Paper, expected to be released in the next few weeks, is calling for yet more taxation.

Ekins is billed as a leading expert on the economics of climate change and co-director of the UK Energy Research Centre

He wants the Government to put a tax on plasma screen televisions, insisting taxing plasma screens would reflect their ‘greater climate change burden’.

Plasma TVs, according to the government-funded Energy Saving Trust, consume about four times more energy than conventional cathode-ray tube TVs.

However researchers point out that exact comparisons are not quite so easy as that, because of the size difference between plasmas which are 50% bigger than their equivalents.

It has been estimated that on average a ‘conventional’ TV costs about £25 per year to run accounting for 100kg of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, whereas a plasma TV costs about £100 per year produces around 400kg of CO2 - All assuming the electricity is not sourced from nuclear, or renewable power sources.

Prof. Ekins, rather stating the obvious, also singled out patio heaters as especially energy-intensive.

The UK Energy Research Centre is essentially government funded being funded through:

The Natural Environment Research Council NERC - ‘Funding world-class science tackling the 21st century's major environmental issues such as climate change, biodiversity and natural hazards.’

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) - ‘The UK Government's leading funding agency for research and training in engineering and the physical sciences.’

and The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) - The UK's leading research funding and training agency addressing economic and social concerns.

So, a Professor, indirectly funded by the government, calling for extra taxation – No cause for comment there then.

After all it’s not as if anyone would call into doubt, say, a professor funded by the tobacco industry who had done research suggesting there might be some benefits to smoking.

Why is it that the answer to any perceived problem always seems to be more taxation, more laws & regulations and ever increasing Government Control?