Guernsey Press

Proposed policy will probably increase the island’s production of carbon dioxide

GUERNSEY is an island but that doesn’t mean that it has to be insular in its outlook.


Currently there are two important matters on which Guernsey needs to come up with answers.

1 We need to increase our tax take to prevent a slow deterioration in our current standard of living.

2 We need to be thinking now of how Guernsey can play its part in ameliorating global warming, the effects of which, if unchecked, are a threat to us all, not least to Guernsey. If global warming is unchecked the world-wide disruption that will result will not spare Guernsey just because we are a small island and cannot contribute much in the way of carbon dioxide reduction.

In response to 1, States committees are putting forward their ideas as to how they can increase income. They understandably tend to plump for solutions which will inconvenience nobody or, if not possible, only those with little political clout (to safeguard their own re-election). These measures rarely produce a meaningful increase in the tax take. Increasing the bus fares is a prime example. Increase the fare and more income will be raised but only if passengers don’t take to their cars as a cheaper option. Whatever the effect on how much extra money is raised, the only certainty is that some passengers will transfer back to their cars and car usage on the island will increase, mainly to get to and from work. Fare increases is a wholly insular policy looking no further than how it affects this island.

Returning to 2, rapid global warming is due to the rising level of atmospheric CO2 (despite what climate change sceptics may claim), the increased production of which over the last few hundred years has been due to mankind’s activities. Most CO2 production is outside our individual control – the major source is from electricity and heat generation followed by road and sea transportation of goods. There are only a few ways that we, as individuals, can directly reduce the amount of carbon dioxide we produce and one is in the sphere of personal transportation, be it by road vehicle, boat or plane.

In Guernsey the main producer of carbon dioxide is the internal combustion engine. Yet here we have a proposed local policy which will probably increase the island’s production of carbon dioxide (and other hydrocarbon pollutants) by increasing car usage – the higher the fare the greater the car usage – and this just when we should be trying to rein in CO2 production. However, even the States should be able to come up with a policy that will increase the tax take and reduce CO2 production, even though it won’t be a vote winner in the short term – but, hey, what is more important, keeping your source of income as a State’s member or helping save your islander and the planet from the effects of global warming?

Let me take the blame for what is a logical solution:

1 Increase fuel duty to increase the costs of running a petrol/diesel motor vehicle engine to persuade car drivers to use alternative forms of transport, especially to and from work. (I’m sure that ways of ameliorating the extra costs for commercial users are not beyond the whit of our financial whiz-kids.)

2 Introduce car-parking charges at such a level as to make car owners think again about whether they should be using their cars to get to and from work.

3 Use the money raised from parking charges to increase the bus service to accommodate the increase in bus usage. This is not optional.

4 Do not increase the bus fare – if anything abolish it. (Study after study has shown that to reduce car usage the alternatives (train, shuttle or bus) must be cheap or preferably free, and car parking charges must be significant.

With those measures in place, the air will be cleaner, the islands CO2 production will be reduced, the cost to the daily commuter will be lower and if the levels are set appropriately, there will be money left over to increase the tax take.

Tony Lee