Reducing the level of fuel taxes and introducing a levy based on distance travelled could be one way for European governments to meet their ambitious targets for cutting transport emissions, according to experts at a round-table meeting, hosted by the International Transport Forum in Paris.
Stef Proost of the Centre for Economic Studies at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, suggested that this system would be the most cost-effective should governments eventually decide to impose some form of ‘green’ taxation on general road users.
Higher fuel duties are usually cited as the most likely form of dissuading road users, but Proost said that this alone would not be sufficient.
Instead, he suggested lowering fuel duties and imposing a tax based on the size of vehicle and the journey travelled.
This, he said, would encourage more people to use public transport rather than using their own – or rental – vehicle, reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
An alternative system was put forward by Charles Raux of the Transport Economics Laboratory at the University of Lyon in France.
He posited the idea of extending the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme to include vehicle users as well as manufacturers – which would see drivers allocated rights to a certain quantity of fuel, with the possibility of buying more rights or selling on surpluses, depending on their road use.
Again, fuel duty would be cut to be replaced with the rights system, which Raux said would lead to significant cuts in CO2 at only a minimal cost (between Euro 6-14 per vehicle per year) to motorists.