New book finds green taxes are excessive by over £500 a family

August 15, 2011 9:55 AM


  •  Green taxes raised over £40 billion in 2010

  • Even after accounting for the cost of road building and greenhouse gas emissions, they were excessive by over £13 billion


The biggest threat to taxpayers right now is expensive new green taxes and subsidies. In the first ever mainstream book on this subject - published Thursday 18 August - TaxPayers’ Alliance Director Matthew Sinclair has exposed how this is the critical new threat to family finances. With rising fuel bills and petrol prices, it will be a defining feature of the political landscape over the coming year.

'Let Them Eat Carbon' shows how Fuel Duty is putting huge pressure on motorists. An energetic campaign against the tax is arguing for it to be frozen for the rest of this Parliament, after the cut at the last budget, and is among the most popular on the new government e-petition website.

Increases in Fuel Duty and other green taxes have frequently been justified by the need to cut greenhouse gas emissions but estimates in the new book show that argument isn't credible. Providing new figures and using a method pioneered in earlier studies for the TaxPayers’ Alliance and used by researchers at the Department for Transport, it finds that green taxes were excessive compared to the harms they are meant to address:

  •  The Office for National Statistics has reported that environmental taxes raised £41.4 billion in 2010

  • After accounting for total road spending (£9.2 billion in 2010-11) and Air Passenger Duty (£2.1 billion), total domestic green taxes net of road spending were £30.1 billion in 2010

  • Greenhouse gas emissions were 582.4 Mt CO2-equivalent in 2010 according to the Department of Energy and Climate Change. The social cost of those emissions, based on earlier Government estimates of the social cost per tonne adjusted for inflation, was £16.9 billion

  • That implies that excess green taxes were levied of £13.2 billion, or over £500 for every family


The estimate is conservative as that Government estimate of the social cost per tonne of carbon dioxide is high relative to most estimates in the academic literature, for example as contained in a report for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It implies motorists in particular are being singled out for excessive taxation.

Matthew Sinclair, Director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance and author of 'Let them eat carbon', said:

 “I wrote this book because the rising cost of energy is an increasingly important feature of the political landscape, as it massively affects the cost of living for families across Britain. Excessive green taxes make everything from driving to work to taking a well-earned holiday more expensive and make it a lot harder for manufacturers to compete and keep employing people here in Britain. Motorists are particularly hard hit and unfairly penalised well beyond the cost of maintain the roads and the environmental harms their emissions create. The Government need to give families a better deal and cut unfair green taxes.”

Other issues covered in the book include subsidies for renewable energy; emissions trading; windfall profits for industry; and environmentalist and corporate lobbying. The introduction can be downloaded here. And the book is available from Amazon here.

  •  Green taxes raised over £40 billion in 2010

  • Even after accounting for the cost of road building and greenhouse gas emissions, they were excessive by over £13 billion


The biggest threat to taxpayers right now is expensive new green taxes and subsidies. In the first ever mainstream book on this subject - published Thursday 18 August - TaxPayers’ Alliance Director Matthew Sinclair has exposed how this is the critical new threat to family finances. With rising fuel bills and petrol prices, it will be a defining feature of the political landscape over the coming year.

'Let Them Eat Carbon' shows how Fuel Duty is putting huge pressure on motorists. An energetic campaign against the tax is arguing for it to be frozen for the rest of this Parliament, after the cut at the last budget, and is among the most popular on the new government e-petition website.

Increases in Fuel Duty and other green taxes have frequently been justified by the need to cut greenhouse gas emissions but estimates in the new book show that argument isn't credible. Providing new figures and using a method pioneered in earlier studies for the TaxPayers’ Alliance and used by researchers at the Department for Transport, it finds that green taxes were excessive compared to the harms they are meant to address:

  •  The Office for National Statistics has reported that environmental taxes raised £41.4 billion in 2010

  • After accounting for total road spending (£9.2 billion in 2010-11) and Air Passenger Duty (£2.1 billion), total domestic green taxes net of road spending were £30.1 billion in 2010

  • Greenhouse gas emissions were 582.4 Mt CO2-equivalent in 2010 according to the Department of Energy and Climate Change. The social cost of those emissions, based on earlier Government estimates of the social cost per tonne adjusted for inflation, was £16.9 billion

  • That implies that excess green taxes were levied of £13.2 billion, or over £500 for every family


The estimate is conservative as that Government estimate of the social cost per tonne of carbon dioxide is high relative to most estimates in the academic literature, for example as contained in a report for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It implies motorists in particular are being singled out for excessive taxation.

Matthew Sinclair, Director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance and author of 'Let them eat carbon', said:

 “I wrote this book because the rising cost of energy is an increasingly important feature of the political landscape, as it massively affects the cost of living for families across Britain. Excessive green taxes make everything from driving to work to taking a well-earned holiday more expensive and make it a lot harder for manufacturers to compete and keep employing people here in Britain. Motorists are particularly hard hit and unfairly penalised well beyond the cost of maintain the roads and the environmental harms their emissions create. The Government need to give families a better deal and cut unfair green taxes.”

Other issues covered in the book include subsidies for renewable energy; emissions trading; windfall profits for industry; and environmentalist and corporate lobbying. The introduction can be downloaded here. And the book is available from Amazon here.

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