We should have gone with the approach used by other EU countries (including Germany and NL) which was that diesel cars were taxed higher but the fuel was taxed lower so it’s cheaper at the pumps. This incentivises high-mileage drivers (i.e. motorway users) to buy diesel as the high mileage more than cancels out the higher road tax. Lower mileage drivers went for petrol. Thus the right fuel was applied to the right use cases and urban pollution was mitigated.@Doodle Ok. So let's say the government changes their minds in 2030 about battery electric vehicles as you forecast (after a decade of investing in battery factories, charging infrastructure and more)
What will they change their minds about, in your opinion? Will they conclude that zero emission (at the tailpipe) vehicles makes air quality worse vs petrol/diesel cars? Or you envisage another conclusion?
Regarding the promotion of diesel cars by a previous UK government. They knew diesel had issues for air quality back then but chose to ignore that.
'Mr Brown brought in a sliding scale for car tax or vehicle excise duty (VED), to make it cheaper for cars with lower emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas which contributes to global warming. This resulted in lower VED rates generally for diesel cars, which tend to be more fuel efficient. But they emitted greater quantities of other pollutants harmful to health, nitrogen oxides and particulates.
The records confirm that ministers and civil servants in the Labour government were well aware that diesel pollution damages air quality (even if perhaps they did not appreciate the full extent). But officials preparing the 2000 Budget argued against higher tax for diesel cars "so we are not seen as being overly harsh on diesel users".
Advice from the Treasury's tax policy section presented to ministers stated: 'Relative to petrol, diesel has lower emissions of CO2 but higher emissions of the particulates and pollutants which damage local air quality. A diesel supplement is necessary so that we do not create incentives for people to choose diesel vehicles over similar petrol models in order to attract a lower VED rate.'
But their concern was how this supplement would be perceived: 'Presentationally, this should be seen as ensuring fair treatment of petrol and diesel, rather than as a penalty on diesel users.'
The officials therefore rejected imposing larger supplements on diesel cars which would have a greater deterrent effect, concluding 'we would prefer the smaller £10 supplement, so we are not seen to be 'penalising' diesel vehicles.'"
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