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Save the environment by, er, buying a new car

I know that the reasons given for tax increases are usually lies – the only reason is to boost government coffers – but the supposed environmental reasons for increasing car tax really bug me. I’ve got a knackered old Saab which is seven years old and therefore comes under the new regime, so from next year I’ll have to shell out a fifth of its value in car tax every year. Come to think of it, it’ll be more than a fifth because by next year it’ll be worth approximately 2p and the annual tax will be £300.

Given that the kind of car I need doesn’t change – I can’t fit a baby, a pram and a dog in a Smart – and that the tax is painful, that gives me two options. I can get an older estate car, or I can buy a newer estate car.

Older isn’t that green, because older cars pollute more. If I go back one  year and buy an identical Saab, the petrol and the diesel versions both pump out more CO2 than my current car, because the engines were revised to make them less polluting in 2001. Other manufacturers aren’t any better. An eight-year-old Mondeo estate pumps out more CO2 than my seven-year-old Saab whether I go for the petrol or the diesel. And of course, as cars get older they become dirtier.

Newer isn’t very green either, because most of a car’s environmental impact is in its manufacture. So changing a car that’s running more or less okay in favour of a newer one is just wasteful, and kills polar bears.

Which leaves a third option: keep the car, pay the tax, and don’t change anything.

Only a cynic would suggest that that’s exactly what the government expects most of us to do…

4 replies on “Save the environment by, er, buying a new car”

This is perhaps the most sickening aspect of the huge con trick that is environmentalism. Because the Left have adopted it as the latest way to tell people what to do, it has been built on deeply anti-market principles. Hence the requirement for coercive action by the government. But government action is always very susceptible to hijacking by interest groups, and the largest interest group is of course the government itself. So naturally the main point of these measures is to increase government revenue, whilst having little to negative impact on the environment (just wait till all these suddenly-worthless cars are dumped all over the streets of Britain).

Another negative impact – if I’m representative of car owners (and who knows, maybe I am) then the tax is bad in another way. Because the car tax is one lump (or two, if you go for the more expensive six months option), that’s the cost of a service. My car needs a major service, but I can’t afford to tax it and service it in the same month. So the service, which ensures it’s as efficient as it can be, gets deferred. Hurrah for green taxes!

Maybe there’s a California reader who can comment (or you can do the research) but in some states in the US (definitely Cali) you’re required to bring your vehicle in on some schedule for an emissions check. I don’t know what the fines or consequences are if your car is emitting more than the acceptable level but I have heard the consequences for not getting the test done timely is a sure bet on a big fine. Similar concept are the weigh stations (do you have those there? I know you prolly saw plenty here) where the trucks have to be weighed to make sure they aren’t destroying the roads or at an unsafe weight blah blah.

The point is, we have a method of managing those who are polluting or would-be polluters. It’s not really that hard as far as I know or that much of an inconvenience (no more so than getting your oil changed). My Cali friends don’t complain about it anyway.

The point is – the true green thing to do is determine an acceptable limits, implement an emissions check once a car reaches a certain age and have a scaled tax fee depending on how much of a polluter you are. Pay Per Pollute. It’s fair enough to force someone with a nasty belching car to evaluate if the fees and taxes are a better economical choice than a car payment.

Encouraging your tax payers to go into debt and lost in car payments prematurely is not right. A 7 year old Saab is NOT an old car though perhaps it’s a good time to take baseline on it. If you’re car is just as environmentally efficient at 20 years, you’re debt free and have a reliable safe car then you truly are encouraging fiscal and environmental responsibility.

Just because your car is new doesn’t mean it’s not spitting out Ozone Killers. And the whole dust to dust thing as well.

So what does this do to used car businesses that sell 10+ year old cars for next to nothing? Who’d buy something that gets hit on a tax for a third of it’s sale price?! Maybe Britain will become the Worlds Largest Junkyard and prices on European parts will come way down in the U.S.!

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