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Pay up ... or the planet gets it

GEORGE PASCOE-WATSON / UK Sun | October 30 2006

HARD-WORKING families face crippling new bills as the Government fights global warming with a raft of stinging taxes.

But critics accused ministers of forcing the public to pay for their failure to react earlier to the crisis.

Shadow Environment Secretary Peter Ainsworth said last night: “We don't need a programme of green taxes: We need a green programme, full stop.

“This is just a list of taxes when what we need is a system of mutually reinforcing carrots and sticks.”

He was speaking after it was revealed that Environment Secretary David Miliband had already drawn up sweeping green tax plans which he has put to Gordon Brown.

He wrote to the Chancellor: “As our understanding of climate change increases, it is clear more needs to be done.”

Typical families with two children could have to pay up to £1,300 more every year, according to estimates.

The move came on the eve of today's publication of a major study on climate change — which some experts blame on harmful man-made emissions.

Tony Blair describes the report — drawn up by former world bank chief Sir Nicholas Stern — as the “most important” he has seen since becoming Prime Minister.

It is set to fuel the row over the introduction of green taxes.

Mr Ainsworth said: “We want to know whether tax increases on activities which pollute will be offset by tax cuts on activities which don't. Our aim is not to increase the tax burden on hard-working families.”

And Prof Julian Morris, environmental economist at Buckingham University and director of the International Policy Network, said: “I'm afraid it will be Sun readers who will be most affected by these changes.

“The price of their cheap flights will rise, making a short break abroad more costly.

“The cost of visiting their family will rise, because of increased petrol duty.

“And people will effectively be forced to buy energy-saving televisions and long-life lightbulbs by a nannying Government. Their whole way of life will alter forever.”

The green proposals are revealed as leaked documents show people living in crime-free areas are to be penalised with a giant hike in council tax.

The Stern Report will warn that nearly half of the world's species face extinction if there is a two per cent increase in global temperatures.

The rise in temperature would wipe out 40 per cent of all life and turn 200 million people into refugees.

And a similar rise would treble the cost to Britain of dealing with annual river floods, the doom-laden report warns.

Sir Nicholas will urge countries to spend one per cent of the world's economy — around £184billion — now to avert disaster in the coming years.

He forecasts it will cost 20 times that to deal with the failure to tackle the huge problems facing the globe.

And that will damage global economies — sparking a depression not seen since the US Wall Street crash of 1929.

The 700-page document warns countries will be crippled trying to deal with the costs of environmental catastrophes.

The 200 million people would be made homeless by rising river and sea levels.

The dossier also warns that it is not enough for just one or a handful of countries to take action now.

The report was commissioned by Chancellor Gordon Brown and has taken a year to compile.

It is the first compiled by an economist rather than a scientist and carries huge weight.

Mr Brown has recruited ex-US vice-president Al Gore as his green guru. He will advise the Chancellor on international environmental issues.

Tory leader David Cameron vowed yesterday to erect an energy-generating wind turbine on No 10 Downing Street if he wins the next general election.


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