A Message to All Smug Electric Car Drivers: How Will You Recycle the Giant Batteries? an Expert Explodes the Green Myths Behind Our Ever-Increasing 'Environmental' Taxes
Byline: PHILIP STOTT
AT LAST some green light has been shed on the darker corners of Government thinking. David Miliband, the bright young pretender to the highest political office, has drafted a series of proposals aimed at ratcheting up environmental taxes to previously unthinkable levels.
If they are accepted, the plans - exposed in today's Mail on Sunday - would punish normal households in a disturbing range of ways.
There would, for example, be VAT on aircraft fuel to cut down on the cheap flights that have done so much to expand the horizons of ordinary travellers.
Motorists would be punished with huge increases in road tax and fuel duties. And, perhaps most controversially of all, there would be taxes to force us away from supposedly inefficient electrical goods, whether light bulbs or washing machines.
There will, of course, be those who support such green zealotry. I am not among them.
As a biogeographer, a specialist in the distribution of living things who has long studied the effects of climate change on plants, animals and humans, I remain deeply sceptical that we can manage our climate - especially as we are only dabbling at the margins.
Much 'green' policy is ideological rubbish.
Proposals such as these from Mr Miliband, the Minister for Communities and Local Government, have nothing to do with 'Saving the Earth' and are aimed, instead, at expanding the power of bureaucrats - raking in additional taxes in the process.
I am far from convinced that human activity is responsible for global warming. But even if I accepted this theory, measures such as these will not, and cannot, make the slightest bit of difference to climate change.
The UK, for example, accounts for only two per cent of world energy demand.
That will fall to 1.5 per cent by 2020 because of the exponential growth in demand for energy in countries such as China and India. China alone has 30,000 coal mines and is opening a new one every week.
THE priggish and draconian efforts of the fundamentalists - who demand that we leave the benefits of technological progress to the rich while the rest of us suffer - will have a negligible impact. To claim, as the likes of Mr Miliband do, that these measures will have a predictable and significant effect on climate change is political sophistry of the worst kind.
Next, we have to consider whether the sacrifices demanded of us will make the small environmental savings we are promised.
Just how environmentally friendly are recycling or electric cars - things that have become articles of faith with the liberal intelligentsia? The answer is not very.
Take recycling. Well respected authorities on the issue such as Valfrid Paulsson, green guru and former director-general of Sweden's environmental protection agency, and Soren Norrby, former campaign manager for Keep Sweden Tidy, have both argued that tediously sorting our household waste is misguided - and threatens the credibility of environmental politics.
The recycling of plastics is largely uneconomic and often impossible because plastics come in so many varied chemical types.
Reusing bottles and old glass is staggeringly inefficient, a process that costs twice as much as manufacturing fresh products with the raw materials.
And what are the true environmental costs of washing wine bottles and then travelling by car to the nearest recycling centre? What is more, the UK has a green glass mountain, much of which has to be crushed and exported abroad.
There is even more garbage talked about paper and the claims it is destroying trees, which are, of course, grown specially for the purpose. …