14 February 2008

Ken's cant

This week Ken Livingstone has been busy justifying the new increased congestion charge for drivers of cars in emission band G or above - which will be up at £25 per day with no rebates for residents.

Ken says that if people want to drive polluting vehicles, they should have to pay for the privilege.

This is a fine sentiment, but bears little scrutiny, when you examine his scheme.

  • All cars pollute to some extent. The scheme is favourable to small cars, and neutral for cars just within band F.
  • There is no charge for driving outside of the operation hours of the scheme - but what difference to London's air quality and climate change is there if big cars are driven at night or at the weekends?
  • The zone covers a completely arbitrary part of London - why are band G car drivers in South, North and East London all exempt?
  • The scheme makes no allowance for the number of people in a car. Two band F cars each emitting CO2 at the rate of 224 g/km and each carrying one person is far more polluting than one band G car emmitting 230g/km, but carrying two or more people.
  • There is no allowance for the amount of CO2 actually emitted by a car on a particular day: a smaller car might be driven around all day - free of charge - whereas the large car may just take one short journey but be subject to a £25 charge. This is mad, when the smaller car has pumped out more CO2 over the course of the day.

And finally, not all the cars in the scheme are 4x4 giants of the road. Try getting more than three children and two adults in anything smaller than a people carrier (with compliant child car seats). Sure, there are people carriers which are not in band G, but many of them are.

The sad truth is that Ken Livingstone is a bitter little man who wants to do what he can to make the lives of people he hates as difficult as possible. He has no genuine interest in the environment - if he had he would be thinking hard about some of the points above.

Yes, I do drive a car in band G - it is an estate car. Just about the only time I drive it on my own is to move it onto residents' parking in the morning and usually when I am in it, it is full. If the scheme goes ahead, I will have to get a new car as we live 15 feet within the zone and I could not even move my car a few yards into a resident's bay without being caught on camera - although this means I will change my car sooner than I would otherwise and thereby cause even more carbon to be emitted.

So our only hope is Boris.

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