From: Reuters
Published February 5, 2008 05:47 AM

UK lawmakers push for raise in carbon taxes

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain should raise environmental taxes after failing to meet a pledge, made by the ruling Labor Party when it was elected in 1997, to tax pollution more, a committee of lawmakers said on Tuesday.

Since 1997 environmental taxes had fallen as a proportion of all taxes, the committee of parliamentarians from all major political parties said in a report entitled "Climate change and the Stern Review: the implications for Treasury policy."

"We are very disappointed by the Government's timid use of environmental taxes," said committee member John McFall.

"These (taxes that have been introduced) are miniscule in the grand scheme of things. Overall, the Government has failed to match its 1997 commitment to increase the use of green taxes."

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"We recommend that the Government reverse this reduction in commitment," the report said.

In particular fuel taxes have not risen with inflation over the past 10 years, partly to counter rising fuel prices.

The British government does not define fuel taxes as an environmental tax.

Former UK treasury economist Nicholas Stern called for urgent to combat climate change, saying the costs of inaction would be far greater, in his Stern Review published in 2006.

The review had referred to a range of possible policy options to fight global warming, including carbon taxes, carbon trading, best practice and industrial standards.

The committee also called for a climate change minister based outside the environment ministry who would coordinate climate change policies across government.

The report also highlighted a lack of action to curb emissions by the aviation industry, and for that reason called for airlines to display carbon emissions from flights.

"We express concern that airlines are dragging their feet in cooperating on environmental schemes, and recommend that airlines adopt a system of eco-labeling, so that consumers can compare the environmental footprint of each airline when purchasing their tickets," the report said.

(Reporting by Gerard Wynn; editing by James Jukwey)

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