Carbon Tax to Tackle Air Pollution?

Carbon Tax to Tackle Air Pollution?Carbon Tax to Tackle Air Pollution?

Bill Gates –the world’s richest man—slammed the US government earlier this week for its slowness in pushing polluting industries, including automotive, to clean up their act.

Gates made the statement while announcing his plans to spend at least $2 billion of his own money on green energy during an interview with The Atlantic magazine.

“There’s no fortune to be made. Even if you have a new energy source that costs the same as today’s and emits no carbon dioxide, it will be uncertain compared with what’s tried-and-true and already operating at unbelievable scale and has gotten through all the regulatory problems.”

Adding, without a substantial carbon tax, there’s no incentive for innovators or plant buyers to switch to green technologies.

Gates’ statement about groups not doing their part for the environment are as old as the day is long, but even though the Microsoft founder was referring to countries like the US and China, the same is true for Iran.

Tehran, for example, is currently experiencing another wave of heavy air pollution that is expected to persist through the winter.

For its part, Tehran Municipality has attempted to tackle the pollution issue, but due to the density of the city and the sheer number of cars, fails in its broader mission to reduce serious levels of cancerous air pollution.

 Current Programs

Projects like banning locally produced, two-stroke Honda derived motorbikes from Tehran Bazaar district and replacing them with electric-powered ones has been lost somewhere in the halls of the municipality–a recent trip down to the bazaar area proves that nothing is changing.

The Traffic Zone system has to all intent been a roaring success for the local council. Cars blocking the city center have been mostly removed, with some other local people opting to use the Park & Ride scheme.

The city’s subway has taken some of the slack from people opting out of their vehicles. But this is only part of the solution, a very small part, indeed.

The odd/even car number policy, which has been in force here for the past few years, is also being taken away over time, with the European pollution calculator related to emissions being put in place instead. This will help remove more of the older cars off the road and may prompt car buyers to think about the carbon dioxide emitted from their vehicles, wishful thinking maybe.

But would a carbon tax levied on the vehicle owners be a better option in the long run, both for the environment and the wellbeing of the city?

 Environmental Taxes

Europe’s strict vehicle excise duty is probably the one policy in which the continent is leading the global car manufacturers in pushing for greener standards. The very fact that Volkswagen has been cheating these tests shows what pressure carmakers are under to look like they are meeting the annually tougher standards.

A tax levied on car drivers in polluting areas, irrespective of engine size, may actually do more in the long run to lower the overall levels of carcinogens currently polluting cities across the world, including Tehran.

So it makes sense to have a layered system, which would increase the charge levied on bad pollution days to lessen the effects and try to mitigate the problem, at least for short bursts of time.

Taking the idea a little further, new taxes could be levied on carmakers themselves; they have created the quagmire the automotive industry is in today (sanctions aside).

The governments’ lack of will to combat carbon dioxide emissions over the past 30 years has only made the air more poisonous.

At the end of the day, the national and global pollution problem, which is partly caused by polluting vehicles, is not going to go away. It is not some abstract concept that politicians can talk indifferently about in air-conditioned office, because they cannot escape the polluted air they breathe. It affects all parties.