DEBATE: Was the chancellor right to impose a tax hike on new diesel cars in this week’s Budget?

German Cities to Exceed Limits in Particle Dust Emissions
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DEBATE: Was the chancellor right to impose a tax hike on new diesel cars in this week’s Budget?

YES – Greg Jackson, founder of challenger energy firm Octopus Energy.

Deaths from air pollution are a national scandal. Imagine the outcry if, every year, 40,000 people in the UK died early from polluted water. That is the situation with air pollution in this country today. It’s a huge problem, and it needs to be tackled now.

This tax hike won’t affect drivers who already own diesel cars, but it could encourage those looking to buy new cars to check out other options.

Forward-thinking companies have already invested in bringing down the cost of electric vehicles, and we should be looking to what else we can do make this the most viable option.

More people should be nudged into buying electric vehicles – which is what this tax hike on diesel cars aims to achieve. These cars are cleaner and cheaper to run, and way more fun to drive.

Clean energy is fast becoming the norm, as the technology improves and the cost comes down. Soon electric vehicles will be too. That’s great news for our health, our economy, and our environment.

Read more: Budget: Crackdown on diesel as drivers face higher taxes

NO – Dr Richard Wellings, head of transport at the Institute of Economic Affairs.

Motorists have been conned by the government. First they were encouraged to buy diesel vehicles – because they were “green” – and now they’re being punished for it.

Ministers aren’t playing fair and policy is arbitrary and unpredictable. The chancellor’s tax hike on new diesel cars is the latest example. It will add to the uncertainty facing the car market, which has already seen a collapse in diesel sales. The measure will also incentivise drivers to hold on to their older, more polluting vehicles, rather than buy new, cleaner ones. It will impose significant economic damage for little if any environmental gain.

High-mileage rural motorists will be hit particularly hard, even though they barely contribute to the air pollution problem in big cities. They often need larger vehicles and face a huge extra fuel bill if they switch to petrol.

Drivers have long been used as convenient cash cows by grasping governments, and this policy is yet another counterproductive tax grab.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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