DFT survey finds that the public don't support making petrol and flying more expensive to fight climate change

The Department for Transport have released a new survey, the January 2010 survey of "Public attitudes towards climate change and the impact on transport".


Much of the poll is pretty useless as it asks ridiculous questions.  For example, it asked whether respondents agreed with the statement "I would be prepared to change behaviour to limit climate change".  Leaving aside the awful grammar, it is impossible to gauge the meaning when someone says that they "agree" with such a vague statement.


The results from some of the clearer questions are interesting, though.  Particularly, the question about public support for different measures to curb greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector.   Just 10 per cent supported increased taxes on petrol, just 21 per cent supported increasing the cost of flying, just 16 per cent supported charging motorists to enter more towns and cities, just 6 per cent supported increasing car parking charges and only 37 per cent supported higher taxes on "less environmentally friendly cars" (and the public tend to be even less supportive of that agenda when they find out that such policies don't just target the likes of the Hummer but also more ordinary family cars).


Even some of the measures that don't entail paying more didn't attract much support.  Only 39 per cent supported an expansion of cycle tracks.  Only 42 per cent supported measures to encourage car sharing and even "better information" on local public transport services only got 38 per cent support.


The only measures that enjoyed public support were "more safe routes for children to walk to school" and spending more on improving bus and rail services (and here the poll's failure to capture whether these policies are a priority against cutting the deficit, cutting taxes and spending on roads makes it less than helpful).  Even those proposals didn't reach 60 per cent support, though.


The public are right to oppose any plans to make driving and flying even more expensive.  In most of the country, outside the dense transport networks in the cities, people need to drive to get to work and access services.  And, they don't want to be penalised when they take a well-earned holiday.  Research by the TPA has shown overall green taxes are too high, particularly for motorists, and the DFT has confirmed that the same is true for taxes on flights.


Green taxes are excessive and unpopular; the last thing politicians should be doing is planning to increase them.
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