Do we have the Political Will to “Save the Planet”?

Do we have the Political Will to “Save the Planet”?

Few UK voters can deny the reality of climate change, especially after experiencing one of the wettest winters in our history and enduring those seriously depressing dark winter days. Yet, if I’ve heard the phrase “Well, I’ll be dead, so it won’t affect me” once, I’ve heard it thousands of times. But, dear reader, climate change is not just a distant threat. It’s a reality that’s already affecting us and will continue to do so, unless we act now.

Switching to zero-emissions EVs cuts an individual carbon footprint by 29%, and if you have off-road parking, charging is no more difficult than charging your phone at night. It is correct to say that away-from-home public charging infrastructure needs a lot more development, but 52% of the UK population can install home charges and commute under 40 miles, making EVs ideal for their needs.

So why are they not making the move?

Part of it is the sheer scale of the anti-EV press, with the Daily Mail allowed to print outrageous and inaccurate claims weekly. Recent articles range from “car parks will collapse due to heavy EVs” to “EV batteries don’t last, making second-hand EVs worthless.”

Contrary to the negative claims, most EV batteries come with 100,000 warranties and are expected to last well beyond 250,000 miles. This means that even if the vehicle is no longer in use, the batteries can be repurposed as ‘Power Walls’ in garages, storing affordable night-time electricity for use during peak daytime hours.

However, the current second-hand market for EVs is weak, leading to massive depreciation from new EVs, which, of course, is putting drivers off making the switch.

SmarterUK is advocating for the introduction of Tax breaks to encourage the purchase of second-hand EVs. Current Salary Sacrifice tax breaks are complicated because they require the involvement of employers and are inequitable because the more expensive the EV and the higher your earnings, the more you save, making company directors the primary beneficiaries.

The purchase of new EVs provides the Government with its highest single VAT earning, with a £60k new EV bringing in £12k of VAT revenue.

This tax revenue could be allocated to provide a £7k tax credit for first-time converts from petrol to EVs, moving the threshold hold tax to be paid up from £12k to £19k. This would provide the same 32% tax saving of £2,240 to all taxpayers equally, with each new EV sale funding three second-hand subsidies.

The same DVLA information used to operate “Scrappage” schemes could be used to police the tax breaks and ensure they only go to people giving up I.C.E car benefits. Ideally, after four years, the second-hand EV would attract another £2,240 grant, making it more attractive for I.C.E car owners to cover the older it gets.

This would make EVs affordable to the least affluent, who would benefit from their 50% lower running cost than older and more polluting I.C.E cars. This would quickly push vehicle electrification into all layers of society.

However, will political parties focused on getting elected in 4-year cycles introduce policies to promote such long-term objectives when so many votes don’t seem bothered by “Global Warming impacts?

Unfortunately, the answer is no, as witnessed when Rishi Sunak demonstrated the Conservative Party’s lack of urgency over climate change by pushing back the ban on selling new petrol cars from 2030 to 2035.

More disappointing is this week’s announcement that Scotland is scaping an ambitious target of a 75% reduction in emissions by 2030, as the SNP do appear to be committed to being net-zero by 2045 but needs to implement their road map to this goal. The impending challenge from Labour in the next general election on what has been a single-party state for the last 17 years may be a major reason behind this switch, again highlighting the difficulty of short-term politics over long-term good.

The biggest threat to climate change, however, is the re-election of a Republican party headed by Donald Trump, as he is likely to reverse a lot of the funding for fighting Climate change implemented by the far Greener Democratic party in the USA.

The climate change apathy group’s most significant weapon has always been, “There is no point in the UK taking action if the major superpowers don’t and if the USA reverses direction, I fear UK politicians will take the easy route and follow.

The SmarterUK party, however, is “Not for turning” and will continue to fight for a Greener UK.


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