Stern Challenges Bush with Call for Green Tax ; DAVOS

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Sir Nicholas Stern, the author of an apocalyptic report on the dangers of global warming, called for more green taxes from world governments in an attempt to cut carbon emissions.

He said that it would be "plain daft" to reject the notion of a global carbon tax given the urgent need to tackle climate change, which he called the "biggest market failure the world has ever seen". He added: "We need to use all the tools we've got. It would be mad to throw one away."

The former World Bank economist stopped short yesterday of calling for a global carbon tax, but said it was "very important to harmonise taxes as best we can". He pointed to the example of the UK, where high taxes on petrol in effect act as carbon taxes, as evidence of how national governments could force citizens to change their behaviour and emit less carbon.

"We should use tax mechanisms as one weapon in an armoury, along with regulation," he said, expressing scepticism that a global carbon tax would work. "Taxes are there for many reasons. You don't have to label them carbon taxes to be effective."

Sir Nicholas was speaking from a Davos obsessed by the environmental threat posed by greenhouse gases. …