A majority of UK people support carbon emission taxes - but how would they impact you?

Thursday, 25th February 2021, 10:27 am
Updated Thursday, 25th February 2021, 10:27 am
A majority of UK people support carbon emission taxes - but how would they impact you? (Photo: Shutterstock)

A majority of UK voters support a tax on carbon emissions, although most think that poorer people should be protected from the impacts of these taxes.

Two thirds of people think a carbon tax would be a fair way to raise money, according to an Opinium poll, while 65 per cent said they are in favour of a ‘green recovery’ from the Covid crisis.

The poll was commissioned by the Zero Carbon Commission, with 2,000 people sharing their views on a carbon tax, plus the UK’s general approach to the climate crisis.

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‘A green recovery’

Two thirds of those polled said they thought a carbon tax would be a fair way to raise money, while 68 per cent said they would want poor people protected from those taxes. And, when it comes to bouncing back from the Covid crisis, 65 per cent of those polled wanted to see the Government do this by prioritsing a ‘green recovery’.

The UK is due to host the COP26 climate summit this summer in Glasgow, which will be the first major global summit since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015.

The UK’s chair of COP26, Alok Sharma MP, took questions in his role from MPs in the House of Commons today for the first time.

According to the polling, around two thirds of people want to see the UK show international leadership on this issue, which could mean pushing forward with policies which have not yet been tried around the world.

Why is a carbon tax being considered?

The Government is looking at ways to reduce carbon emissions in order to meet the climate target of zero emissions by 2050, although many experts believe even this target is not ambitious enough and we should aim for net-zero by 2030.

One of the ways that some campaigners would like to see this target reached is by putting a set price on carbon emissions, which will reduce the amount being used and help fund green infrastructure projects and jobs.

This would involve taxes being levied on energy firms, importers, transport companies and especially flight operators, as well as any other products or services with a particularly high carbon footprint.

While there are some existing taxes which are, in part, driven by environmental concern, such as those on fuel and in heavy industries, a dedicated carbon emissions tax would be the first move to directly link the carbon emissions involved in a certain product directly to a tax levy.

While the tax would generally be levied directly against companies producing or importing goods, rather than members of the public purchasing them, it is likely that this impact of a tax would have some effect on consumers.

‘Now is the time’

A number of celebrities are getting behind the campaign, including actor and author Stephen Fry, who said: “If [the government] have the courage to make polluters pay, it will save many times more people than have died during the pandemic.

“Support for the plastic bag tax rose after it was implemented, and it was the same with other measures like the indoor smoking ban. It just requires leaders to lead. And now is the time.”

A Treasury spokesperson said: “We’re committed to building back better and greener from the pandemic. The prime minister recently set out a ten point plan to achieve this green Industrial Revolution and the Treasury’s Net Zero Review is looking at how the transition to net zero should be funded.”