Big support for taxing the polluters!

A remarkable poll, writes Alan Thornett, conducted by Demos Britain's leading cross party think tank – polled 22,000 people, and shows major public backing for radical action to stop climate change.

The poll, which has just been published, supports a carbon tax on industry, a levy on flying, a maximum speed limit of 60mph on motorways, and a campaign to reduce meat consumption by 10% – measures which had up to 94% public support. The most popular policy mix selected by the public was:

  • A carbon tax of £75 per tonne on polluting manufacturing and construction businesses, with some funding to invest in new technologies, supported by 94% of people.
  • Better-integrated public transport coordinated by local government (93%).
  • Food campaigns and support from government, supermarkets and food companies promoting plant-based diets and cutting meat and dairy consumption by 10% (93%).
  • A comprehensive UK-wide electric vehicle charging network by 2028 (91%).
  • Raising flying costs, particularly on frequent fliers (89%).
  • Some restrictions on cars entering city centres and a 60mph speed limit on motorways (82%).
  • Support for less intensive farming and paying farmers to improve nature, including woodlands (79%).
  • Grants for heat pumps and home insulation for low-income households and low-interest loans for others, reaching 1.4m heat pump installations a year by 2030 (77%).

Polly Mackenzie, the CEO of Demos said:

There is an overwhelming consensus of support behind [these] solutions,” said “The UK government must listen to the public and urgently set out a strategy that will provide a greener, stronger and better future for us all.

This important new analysis, titled The Climate Consensus, and used a market research company
to provide a nationally representative sample of 22,000 people, including participants from every parliamentary constituency. The participants used a climate calculator to choose the policies they preferred in order to meet the government’s 2030 target of a 39% reduction in emissions compared to 2019.

The poll is a remarkable affirmation of public support for a radical green agenda – taxing the polluters in particular. One proposal on the table in this regard is James Hansen’s ‘fee and dividend proposition‘. This provides for very big fees to be levied against the producers at source and redistributed to the general public on a progressive basis. This should be a part of a package of measures that would transfer wealth from the rich to the poor in order to ensure that they would not lose out in the process.

All such measures should be introduced in a way that is consistent with both social and economic justice and which could spark a new generation of public support.

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Alan is the author of Facing the Apocalypse – Arguments for Ecosocialism which can be purchased from Resistance Books.

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