London may abandon plan for CO2 based congestion charge

A year ago, London Mayor Ken Livingstone announced plans to revamp the congestion charge system for the central part of the city. The heart of the changes was to go from a single £8 per day flat rate for all vehicles to a system where drivers would be charged an amount based on the CO2 emissions of their vehicles. Vehicle registration taxes in England are in part based on the emissions band of a vehicle. Starting in 2008, the congestion charge was to have gone up to £25 for the highest emitting vehicles while those that emit less than 120g/km would be exempt from the charge.
However, as ever, the best laid plans have gone awry. In anticipation of the new rules Britons began snapping up low CO2 vehicles in hopes of avoiding the charges. Sales reportedly jumped by over one-third through the first three quarters of 2007. Now Transport for London is considering abandoning the changes over concerns it may lead to increased congestion and lower revenues. If they do this a lot of people who bought these vehicles solely for this reason would be awfully upset. The Mayor needs to decide what his real goal is. If it's reducing congestion than keeping a flat rate on all vehicles is the way to go. Congestion has nothing to do with how much CO2 is emitted, it's about how many vehicles are on a given stretch of roadway. If they want pollution reductions but don't care about congestion the previously proposed plan is the way to go. If they want both, then no vehicles should get an exemption but a sliding scale would still provide an incentive to get a cleaner vehicle if you must drive into the city.

[Source: AutoCar, thanks to Danny for the tip]

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