Our polluting behaviours are subsidised by taxes and a lowering of quality of life
— The “polluter pays” principle feels like natural justice. We would all agree factory owners should be responsible for the pollution they cause. But this idea is less supported when we are the polluters and have to pay more.
A European commission study found our polluting behaviours are being heavily subsidised through taxes and by those whose quality of life is most affected. Taxes and charges paid by transport users cover less than half the true cost, when infrastructure and the external costs of accidents, climate change, air pollution and noise are considered.
This is a Europe-wide cost of about €1tn (£680bn) a year – about 7% of the economy. Three-quarters is due to road transport. Motorcyclists have a large impact per kilometre, mainly through accidents and noise, but pay little. Cost per kilometre by rail is high due to infrastructure costs. Despite the greater environmental cost, the lower infrastructure requirements for bus and coach travel make them the least expensive to society. The aviation industry and ship transport pay little towards their costs.
Sadly, this traditional view of transport systems does not value the exercise gains from walking and cycling that make them cost-beneficial.
by Gary Fuller | The Guardian