Taxation futures for sustainable mobility

Project details

Full project title: Taxation futures for sustainable mobility

Sponsors: Economic and Social Research Council - 'New Opportunities on the Environment and Human Behaviour' Programme

Project coordinator: Dr Stephen Potter, Open University (Applicant)

UWE Bristol investigator: Professor Graham Parkhurst (Co-applicant)

Collaborators at other institutions: Dr Marcus Enoch, Loughborough University; Dr Ben Lane, Open University; Dr Barry Ubbels, Free University, Amsterdam

Start date: January 2003

Finish date: January 2004

Project briefing sheet: Download the briefing sheet document (PDF)

Project summary

Economic instruments have been widely advocated to encourage more sustainable forms of transport, but the UK transport taxation regime was designed mainly to provide a reliable income stream rather than behavioural change. Increases in fuel tax have not delivered significant behavioural change and have faced severe political resistance. Yet research shows the impossibility of sustainable mobility without efficient price signals. Instead, government has introduced tax cuts to favour cleaner vehicles which have reduced tax revenues. Together, these points create a powerful case for a new motoring taxation regime.

This project will integrate existing research that has begun to explore the restructuring of the regime, including:

  1. estimations of the decline in UK government revenues as a result of the adoption of more efficient and cleaner cars and fuels;
  2. modelling of the role of tax concessions in promoting uptake of low carbon cars in the UK;
  3. the application of a model of traffic and emissions reduction (originally developed for the Netherlands) which considers the fiscally-neutral replacement of existing taxes with a distance-charging system;
  4. empirical studies of the impact of distance-charging systems used by car clubs in Europe on the amount of car use and emissions.

An integrative framework will involve users through seminars at the beginning and end of the project in order to consolidate established research and set an agenda for policy. The research team will develop a series of scenarios, drawing on the experience and outputs of the above studies. These will provide estimates of the transport, environmental and tax revenue effects. The user groups and an advisory panel will include representatives from government, professional organisations, special interest and representation groups and academics.

In addition to the seminars, dissemination will include a final report, conference presentations and publication in peer-reviewed journals.