Pay more tax to fight climate change? British district puts it to the vote

by Amber Milne | @hiyaimamber | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Thursday, 27 February 2020 18:45 GMT

FILE PHOTO: Pound coins are seen in the photo illustration taken in Manchester, Britain September 6, 2017. REUTERS/Phil Noble/Illustration

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A local authority will ask residents if they will back a tax hike to fund climate measures from electric car chargers to greener social housing

By Amber Milne

LONDON, Feb 27 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A British district has said it will ask residents whether they would be willing to pay more tax to help it become carbon neutral by 2030, in a first-of-its-kind referendum.

Warwick District Council wants to raise an extra 3 million pounds ($3.90 million) a year to pay for green measures including energy-efficient social housing and chargers for electric taxis by hiking taxes.

The council's leader Andrew Day said the proposal would mean a weekly increase equivalent to "less than half the price of a typical cup of coffee" as he urged voters to approve the plan.

"We're all politically realising and recognising that this is an emergency," said Day. "We need to put petty differences aside, come together, work with our residents and actually address this."

The council for Warwick in central England voted in favour of the move this week and will hold a referendum in May.

The move comes as parts of the country are grappling with flooding exacerbated by global warming, posing a challenge to local governments facing funding shortages.

The western city of Bristol became the first in Britain to declare a "climate emergency" in late 2018 and almost 300 local councils have followed suit, with many making bold climate pledges to become carbon neutral within the next decade.

But many lack the funds to make the necessary changes.

"There are other ways we could raise money, we could just put charges on all sorts of things," Day said.

"But that's not actually really bringing people with you, that's telling people what to do and that's not the place for local government."

($1 = 0.7696 pounds)

(Reporting by Amber Milne; Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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