Policy Exchange, a leading UK think tank specialising in government policy, have suggested introducing an £800 pollution tax on every new diesel car sold. The idea is backed by Boris Johnson, mayor of London.
Air pollution in many UK cities causes thousands of avoidable deaths per year. Diesel vehicles are largely responsible for this, whose nitrogen dioxide emissions have not seen much reduction despite existing government legislation.
The £500m proceeds per year would fund schemes to help eventually phase out the use of older diesels. Motorists would be encouraged to switch to lower emission vehicles, which could significantly reduce the number of pollution-related deaths in the UK.
“London and many of the UK’s other major cities are facing an air pollution crisis, with residents exposed to illegal and unhealthy levels of NO2 pollution,” said Richard Howard, head of environment and energy at Policy Exchange. “If we are to clean up air pollution, then government needs to recognise that diesel is the primary cause of the problem, and to promote a shift to alternatives.”
Despite Osborne’s announcements last year that vehicle owners will soon be taxed based on the CO2 emissions of their cars, Policy Exchange believe that this rule does not adequately penalise diesel drivers, who pollute the environment in other ways.