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Car-ban tax

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The article 'Emission Accomplished' by Lloyd Williams (AJ 4.4.02) was very useful in helping to understand the changing tax rates when using a business car or a vehicle used in the course of a business.

However, I thought the purpose was a reduction in the use of CO 2.Surely, driving a car is inherently problematic and central government or employer money would be better spent subsidising public transport alternatives to the car-based commute.

Steve Halpern, Croydon, London

Austin Williams writes:

Carbon emissions from cars are around 13 per cent of the total global anthropogenic emissions (man-made). Man-made emissions are less than 3.5 per cent of all global carbon emissions; albeit carbon sinks re-absorb most carbon emissions, approximately 55 per cent of anthropogenic emissions remain added to the global total.

Notwithstanding the key debate over whether CO 2causes global warming or is a result of it; a temperature rise of 2-2.5infinityC over 100 years seems likely. The UK pledge on the Kyoto protocol aims to reduce the primary greenhouse gas by 20 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020. Improvements in technology and certainly in car technology have been happening as a straightforward commercial expedient and combined with general societal developments, has improved air quality to a standard in the UK not seen for 150 years or so.

Bjorn Lømborg, in his thought-provoking book, The Skeptical Environmentalist, says that implementing Kyoto will cost about -150 billion/year - twice as much as providing all of the Third World with the basics of education, clean water, health and sanitation. In these terms, the focus of our actions on global warming will certainly have dangerous consequences - but not the ones we are led to believe - if we continue to prioritise nominal reductions in CO 2levels over other real pressing matters. (See also 'Design tokenism' by Helene Guldberg and Peter Sammonds, AJ 28.2.02).

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