UK government: please introduce charges on carbon emissions

tl;dr Air pollution kills 64,000 people in the UK every year, yet the Government provides annual fossil fuel subsidies of £10.5 billion, according to the European Commission. To meet UK climate targets, the Government must end this practice and introduce charges on producers of greenhouse gas emissions.

Link to petition:
Introduce charges on carbon emissions to tackle climate crisis and air pollution
Deadline: 17 August 2021 (all petitions run for 6 months)

Number of signatures:
20,801 @13Apr2021 (when there were 42 days till Towel Day)
10,000 required for the government to respond (it did on 30Mar2021; see below)
100,000 required for ‘consideration’ (whatever that means) for debate in Parliament

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s ‘Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution‘ has two glaring omissions: it mentions nothing at all about reducing (let alone eliminating) fossil fuel subsidies, nor does it suggest any kind of financial penalty for polluters; both of which, to my mind, are no-brainer first steps to addressing climate change.

A ‘carbon charge’ would encourage industries and organisations to reduce their carbon emissions, and could raise billions for the UK economy. The Government can ensure the charge does not unfairly impact those who cannot afford to pay by using some of the money raised to support low income households through the low-carbon transition. The UK should also utilise its position as host of COP26 and the G7 summit to drive global progress on carbon pricing.

From the petition ‘Introduce charges on carbon emissions to tackle climate crisis and air pollution

The response to the petition, provided by HM Treasury on 30Mar2021, includes a paragraph of what appears to me to be total gobbledegook which tries to sidestep the OECD‘s findings that the UK subsidises the fossil fuel industry to the tune of £10.5 billion a year§, and follows that with the declaration, “To be clear, the UK does not give any subsidies to fossil fuels”. Someone here is telling pork pies; given the choice of conflicting analyses, it’s no surprise to me that the Sleaze Party would choose a set that can be interpreted to suit its agenda.

Working backwards from the six-month deadline (17Aug2021) indicates that this petition was initiated in February — why doesn’t just show the start date up front is beyond me; I reckon there must be a hidden tax on joined-up thinking. The number of signatures to date is a pitiful 21k. Removing my socks to do the sums, I figure that’s just over 10k per month so far, and if it continues to build at that sluggish rate this petition has the proverbial snowball in hell’s chance of reaching the 100k signatures required for ‘consideration for Parliament debate’; something I feel is sorely needed so as to hold the government’s feet to the fire.

On the grounds that an ocean consists of a multitude of drops, I’ve signed this petition. If you’re a UK citizen, I hope you will consider doing so, too.

§ “The United Kingdom is the largest provider of subsidies to fossil fuels [in the European Union] with €11.6 bn accounting for 21% of the total amounts in 2016” — Study on Energy Prices, Costs and Subsidies and their Impact on Industry and Households Final report, November 2018, page 268

H/T to the Ovo Energy forum for pointing me to the Zero Carbon Campaign, which led me inexorably to this petition!

About peNdantry

Phlyarologist (part-time) and pendant. Campaigner for action against anthropogenic global warming (AGW) and injustice in all its forms. Humanist, atheist, notoftenpist. Wannabe poet, writer and astronaut.
This entry was posted in balance, Biodiversity, Climate, Communication, Environment, GCD: Global climate disruption, Health, News and politics, Strategy and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to UK government: please introduce charges on carbon emissions

  1. Very interesting. I have a number of questions. 1) you state that air pollution kills 64,000 in the UK annual. What is the source of that number, and what constitutes air pollution? 2) It seems to me that the most efficient way to tax carbon would be to tax fuel purchases, i. e. a gasoline tax. Is that what is being referred to here, or is this something else? Forgive me, I am entirely ignorant regarding the UK tax code. 3) Does the UK government indeed subsidize fossil fuels, or the fossil fuel industry? My nascent googling skills regarding the report you mentioned indicate that the issue is not that the government technically gives money to the industry, but that the OECD deems the taxes collected by the UK to be too low, and believes that this constitutes a subsidy. To me this seems like an equivocation.

    Thanks for your patience in reading this incredibly ignorant comment. Obviously I know nothing about this subject. Haha.

    Liked by 2 people

    • pendantry says:

      Thanks for getting me to check the facts, dumbestblogger! :)

      (1) Let’s see… seems to depend who you ask. This item (March 2019) gives the 64k pa number; but Public Health England in the same month reports the number being lower, 28k-36k. I think that the point, for me, is that those numbers are far too high for something that’s simply avoidable if we can do what needs to be done anyway (ie, move away from fossil fuels).

      (2) No, I don’t think a ‘gas tax’ will cure anything. What I understand this petition to be proposing is a move to make polluters pay for their messes.

      (3) I think that the problem here, and one of the reasons that this issue is so intractable, is that it’s very difficult to determine the truth. But at the same time it is very, very clear that (a) the fossil fuel industry has been lying to us all for decades and wants to carry on with ‘business as usual’, fleecing us all while poisoning us and (b) the fossil fuel industry has a great many politicians in its pocketses.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Sure. So this is aimed at entities that use an excessive amount of carbon, not so much casual drivers/homeowners using fuel to heat their houses?

        What? Industries having politicians in their pockets? Seems far-fetched. Lolz.

        Liked by 3 people

        • pendantry says:

          I believe that there has been too much finger-pointing for far too long, backed up by lies, damn lies, statistics, creative accounting methodologies and deliberate obfuscation. A common objection, for example, is, “why should [I/ we/ nation state/ industry sector/ etc] do anything about it when [they/ nation state/ industry sector] are not?”

          One glance at this chart for instance (it’s from 2005 so it’s a bit dated; I looked but couldn’t find anything more recent) is enough to make my head spin. It shows that ‘residential buildings’ account for ~10%, and ‘road transport’ another ~10% (though there’s no split there between individual use and freight). That leaves ~80% — and it’s all industry. We as individuals can only do so much; the big gains are clearly to be made by getting industry to be accountable (and, ideally, for all of those things that it has traditionally treated as nebulous ‘externalities’ they don’t have to account for or be responsible for).

          We, as a species (that I like to call ‘homo fatuus brutus‘), are collectively responsible for the mess we’ve made. The systems our forebears put in place lacked the necessary vision; and we need to act to correct the imbalances.

          So, yes, the way I see it, this is a measure to curb the activities of those parts of our civilisation that do the most harm. It’s difficult, because they have been historically imbued with so much power and influence.

          Liked by 2 people

  2. Great article and discussion
    Laugh Make folks wonder what the joke is

    Liked by 2 people

  3. You are just so darn idealistic. Even more so than me. And I’m already being laughed at…
    The first question that came to mind was – How do we define how people are killed by air pollution? How do we diagnose that?

    Liked by 2 people

    • pendantry says:

      Oh, come, now. The Internet is your friend: “How do we define how people are killed by air pollution?

      (Whoops. Hit ‘Send’ before completing the comment! Sorry!)

      Liked by 1 person

      • I admit, a part of me was lazy. However, there were also two other reasons why I asked. 1) Because I thought it might be beneficial for your post to include that. 2) Because I remember having trouble finding an answer to my question.

        I clicked your link and went through a couple of different links. Mostly, the article talk about numbers of people killed by pollution and how pollution is bad for us. Of course it is! We all know that. But I wondered how doctors are able to tell it was pollution exactly that killed someone. After some research, the only thing I found was that pollution can cause “increased blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, heart attacks and heart failure.” Last time I checked there are plenty of other factors that contribute to these diseases. How do we know it was that and not their diet, for example?

        I agree that pollution is bad. However, I have trouble with the arguments being used since there seems to be no details on that.

        Liked by 2 people

        • pendantry says:

          I wondered how doctors are able to tell it was pollution exactly that killed someone.

          I’m not clinically trained, so I am unable to properly address your question. But I have to wonder why you so clearly doubt expert opinion on the matter. Are you suggesting that there’s some Grand Conspiracy in play to demonise pollution? If so, for what purpose? I fear that perhaps the Merchants of Doubt have got into your head.

          Liked by 2 people

          • “Doubt expert opinion?” What expert opinion? I seem to be able to find any aside from conclusions without a path. Even in primary school I was not allowed to just give an answer without giving an explanation. Even if my conclusion was correct, I would not get any marks if I could not show why it was so.

            Liked by 1 person

          • pendantry says:

            Oh, come now, I don’t think you’ve looked hard enough. Try for instance researchgate, perhaps?

            Liked by 1 person

          • I give up. I went through multiple articles and found:
            a) pollution is bad for us (not disputing that)
            b) “although environmental pollution in China has no significant negative impact on the “near-term health” of residents, it can reduce the levels of “self-rated health” and “mental health” of residents”
            c) people die of pollution but no one seems to be able to tell me exactly how that is being decided
            Thanks for playing.

            Liked by 1 person

          • pendantry says:

            The very first document in that ‘researchgate’ link I offered you says, on the second page:

            As of 2015, pollution was responsible for 16% of all deaths globally, and an estimated 9 million premature deaths, making it the largest cause of morbidity and premature mortality due to environmental causes. [4]

            That ‘[4]’ cites “Landrigan, et al. Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health.
            Lancet. 2018;391:462–512.” It would be necessary to access that Lancet article for further detail.

            I don’t know what to say to you, Goldie. On the one hand, you say you don’t dispute that pollution is bad for us, but on the other you appear to be saying there’s no evidence for it.

            I’m not clinically trained, nor do I possess the relevant expertise (my academic background is in computer science); I have no evidence to offer you regarding the precise mechanisms by which animal bodies, and the environment at large, are harmed by pollution. If you need such information, I can only suggest that you dig deeper (which could take years!). One glance at a lake full of dead fish into which toxic waste has been dumped (usually illegally) is good enough for me, personally.

            Call it an argumentum ab auctoritate if you like, but I trust that those who do have the relevant expertise know what they’re talking about.

            Liked by 2 people

          • I’m about to rip my hair out because I feel like I’m arguing with a wall. (You probably are, too.) I see the quote. I told you – I saw all these numbers, but again – no answer as to how they know who died because of “pollution.” You know – does the cause of death on the certificate say pollution? How is it determined? If someone has a heart attack, that is easy to verify. Cancer, the same, etc. How is pollution influence measured? THAT is what I cannot find any solution to.

            I don’t say there is no evidence for it. I say that I don’t know how they figure out who died of pollution. Again, please refer to my above paragraph regarding cause of death.

            I mean drinking toxic waste is a whole another story.

            Well, I AM somewhat trained in that field, hence my increased interest.

            Liked by 2 people

          • pendantry says:

            Again, all I can say is that my expertise is is computer science. I don’t need to know how electrons make the computer go. I could find out, if I wanted to: but it would take me years. Same thing.

            Liked by 2 people

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