Yesterday, as has been well reported, the Lib Dem run Richmond Council has announced a prescriptive local tax policy on those wishing to have "Resident Parking Permits". Basically, it will band vehicles by CO2 output and charge higher rates for the right to park on the road outside houses.
Without wishing to get too philosophical, this is exactly the wrong way to go about tackling climate change and CO2 output. Using taxation to change behaviour rarely works, when it hurts, and especially when it hurts the poor, as this policy will do, it creates resentment, not compliance.
Instead of arbitrarily trying to reduce emissions by targeting one single small group, Council's should be looking to encourage greater carbon neutrality from its residents. What might that mean in practice? Well here's an idea, if, as Richmond Council claim, there approach is revenue neutral, then how about offering scaled discounts from reasonably set parking permit price on the basis of driver carbon offsetting?
Instead of having a rising price scale, what you do is set your permit price at say, £150 per year (that figure is arbitrary for my example before anyone complains it is too high or too low). You then offer, in conjunction with Climate Care, residents the ability to off-set their car's carbon output. In return they receive a rebate/discount on their parking permit at the end of the year or beginning of the next, which is a notional amount higher than their offset cost. e.g. £150 for a permit at the beginning of year, £25 offset charge at the end of the year, rebate of £50 from the Council.
This kind of policy, unlike that proposed in Richmond, would encourage people to be aware of their impact of the environment and make them act by offering them a discount to their pocket. If Council's genuinely mean it when they say the want revenue neutral schemes then carbon neutral carrots, rather than taxation sticks are what they ought to be doing.