Friday, August 10, 2007

Make a Difference on 4x4s

By Sian Berry Ecology/Science
From The New Statesman :: print :: email this page

This time last year, we were having a little party at Alliance Against Urban 4×4s HQ after Ken Livingstone announced plans to charge 4×4s (and other gas-guzzlers) a £25 congestion charge just a few weeks after we delivered our petition calling for almost exactly that. Now the hard work really begins as the plan is going out for public consultation this week.

In case you missed them, the proposals aim to introduce a new daily charge of £25 for cars in vehicle excise duty band G, covering cars that emit more than 225 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre. There are also improved discounts for cleaner cars, with all vehicles in bands A and B (emitting less than 120 g/km of carbon dioxide) becoming totally exempt from the charge.

I don’t think anyone can argue that they need a 4×4 or 200 mph sports car in the centre of London and, in the absence of real action from central government, taking the lead and promoting cleaner cars on our own initiative is completely appropriate. The new rate will include all but a handful of 4×4s and every Bentley and Ferrari in town and will even remove their 90% resident’s discount, meaning owners of pointless status symbols will each pay a whopping £6,500 more per year just to have their machines parked in the zone.

I’m being harsh, but it’s an important issue. These cars aren’t harmless; the quantity of carbon dioxide emitted from even the least wasteful band G car is immense. If you have such a car, think about this: 225 g/km is the weight of a brick – of gas! – coming out of your exhaust pipe every five and half miles.