Two Examples -- Sending Positive Signals
Positive Steps Toward Smart Energy Policy
One of the biggest ingredients for a smart energy policy is Truth. Get rid of taxes that distort people's choices, and give full information to buyers and sellers, and all by itself the market will discourage pollution and encourage efficiency and conservation.
Here are two encouraging reports, from the UK and China. Greater information sharing and less distortionary taxation -- in both cases, the free market triumphs.
Red label for gas guzzling carsby Mark Townsend
Cars will carry colour-coded labels warning potential buyers of their impact on climate change under measures to be launched by the British government this week.
The most polluting vehicles will suffer the ignominy of having to display red stickers, while small, fuel-efficient models will sport labels in shades of green.
Car manufacturers and retailers spent last year obstructing progress on the scheme, amid industry concern that it could precipitate stricter restrictions on exhaust emissions and reduce the profitability of the lucrative 4x4 "SUV" sector.
Transportation Minister Darling believes that the labels, inspired by the A-G stickers that reveal the emission ratings of fridges and washing machines, will encourage people to buy less harmful vehicles. The stickers are based on a car's emissions of carbon dioxide, the gas that scientists have identified as the principal cause of man-made climate change.
'The labels will send a clear message to motorists that they can make a real difference by choosing clean fuel-efficient cars,' Darling told The Observer .
A petrol-driven car which emits less than 100g of carbon dioxide per kilometre travelled - such as a Honda Insight - will carry a dark green label advertising its environmental virtues. The average new petrol car, such as a Ford Mondeo 1.8 SCi Ghia, currently emits 172 grams a kilometre and will display an orange label. The most environmentally harmful models, such as a BMW 520i SE, will be given an F rating by the government which entails them wearing a scarlet label.
Although the labelling scheme is voluntary, consumer demand is obvious -- all major manufacturers have signed up to the measures with showrooms introducing the labels for used as well as new vehicles.
Local bike tax abolished in ShanghaiLocal cyclists will no longer be required to pay an annual tax on their bicycles, which many never bothered to pay in the past, the city's tax bureau announced Tuesday.
The bureau said many people have suggested the bicycle tax reform over the past few years.
A national tax law enacted in 1986 gave local authorities across the country the option to levy a tax on bikes. The local tax bureau, along with tax bureaus from 11 other cities and provinces, chose to charge the fee.
At the time, bikes were considered expensive luxury items, but with the city's rapid economic growth over the past decade, they have become cheap vehicles used by many students and migrant workers.
Authorities had to invest a great deal of money to hire tax coordinators to collect and advertise the tax during the first four months of every year. Collection costs were high compared to the revenue raised.
"Though bikes are no longer expensive property, they are still the major traffic access for millions of commuters in the city, especially people with low and medium incomes. The new policy means to benefit this group," said a bureau official.
Tax officials also said dropping the levy is in accordance with the city's efforts to promote the use of environmentally friendly vehicles.
A number of other cities and provinces have canceled their bike taxes in recent years.
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