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United Kingdom

Green-tax task force

Central to the package of measures to help curb greenhouse gases announced by Chancellor Gordon Brown in his budget in March, was the creation of a task force to look into the possible use of green taxes on industry. The review will examine how a tax on the commercial and industrial use of energy might work and will also examine other market mechanisms for controlling greenhouse gases. A consultation paper is due later this year. The group will be headed by Sir Colin Marshall, chairman of British Airways and, until next July, president of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI). Announcement of the review comes just days after the CBI had issued its own advice on using green taxes and other economic instruments to reduce industrial carbon dioxide emissions. Incentives to encourage smaller, cleaner cars and an increase in the price of petrol will also lower overall emissions, Brown claims. But environmental campaigners Friends of the Earth were not impressed, saying the measures do not go far enough. "Small improvements in public transport and a step towards variable road tax do not compensate for a failure to introduce the radical tax measures that the environment demands," says FoE's Charles Secrett. FoE also points out that Brown only commits himself to the EU's 8% reduction target for carbon emissions -- not the target of 20% by 2010 that Labour promised when it fought the election last year and that it campaigned for during the Kyoto summit.

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