Government: Transportation Policy

Words: 3064
Topic: Politics & Government
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[toc title=”Contents”]

  1. Introduction
  2. Background Information
  3. Environment and Equity Concerns about Transport
  4. Statistical Data and their Levels of Ambiguity in the Policymaking
  5. Political Issues
  6. Recommendations
  7. Conclusion
  8. References

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Introduction

A realistic and practical transport policy paper must take cognizance of key factors that have the potential to significantly enlarge or limit its scope (IPCC, 2007 and DoE/DoT (Department of Transport) (1994). The introduction of 2002 transport policy that in UK that seeks to tax car drivers according to their vehicle’s CO2 emissions and fuel type has raised questions on the authenticity of data used.

The underlying fact is that whereas cars form the most convenient means of transport for UK households, this policy is likely to generate intense political debate due to the involvement of conflicting government agencies, active interests, and ambiguous data.

The last two years have witnessed a dramatic rise in the number of vehicles and distances covered in UK roads. In fact, car ownership has become a norm among UK households (Glaister and Graham, 1996). This lifestyle has generated concerns on the impact of rising car ownership on the environment.

It is within this cacophony that the greater Manchester region instituted a transportation tax policy on drivers based on their vehicles’ CO2 emissions and fuel type. This research paper seeks to raise critical issues that surround this transport policy and examine the underlying issues that must be examined for its successful implementation.

Furthermore, it will take an explorative approach in examining the validity and reliability of data used in the policy formulation. This is because successful implementation of a policy revolves around the strength of data used in its formulation.

Political issues likely to be raised by other government agencies, critics and the opposition will also be examined and effective approaches in handling them presented. A recommendation that sets the tone for a long-term precedent will be given and the manner in which this decision is likely to influence future policy issues dissected.

It is expected the contents of the research paper will form a strong basis on which the decision to either discard or implement the policy will be based.

Background Information

The need to control the emissions of CO2 into the atmosphere cannot be underestimated. The earth’s temperature is on the rise. As the earth is getteing hotter and hotter, disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, and floods become more frequent, continue kill thousands every year, and destroy properties worth billions of dollars. One significant area that remains a potent threat and a direct impact of climate change is the rise in sea levels.

There has been controversy over the whole issue of global warming and the rise in sea levels with some people calling it a fiction. However, climatic change patterns witnessed in the recent past are not easy to ignore. Global warming has been blamed for the increased temperatures and precipitation in the form of rainfall has increased.

Environment and Equity Concerns about Transport

As has been stated above, the last two years has witnessed a dramatic rise in the number of vehicles and distances covered in UK roads. Rising levels of car ownership has led to concerns on the impact of car transport on the environment, quality of life, and the ecosystem (DETR (Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions) (1998).

The biggest concern is that this policy is in direct conflict with social inclusion of low-income families and the disadvantaged within the greater Manchester region.

According to EMCT (1995), “in very general terms, key environmental concerns about transport tend to fall into three main categories, namely: energy consumption and global warming; pollution and its effect on local air quality; and land take and its associate effects.” Issues of global warming, energy consumption and rising sea levels drive statistical data that support the implementation of this policy.

Statistical Data and their Levels of Ambiguity in the Policymaking

Whereas the issues addressed in the transportation policy papers conform to the current environmental demands, it is undeniably true that data would have focused on the prevailing environmental challenges within Manchester region and United Kingdom.

The central issues of concern would have taken cognizance of the provision of basic local services in low-income areas in the wider economic climate of competition and examination of the effect the policy on the immediate environmental concerns such as the quality of air.

Taking the analysis from the perspectives of century lifestyles, as opposed to the real environmental challenges afflicting the Manchester residents and its environs is likely to raise eyebrows and precipitate political debate over this important issue.

Whereas the underlying fact is that climate change and rising sea levels has profound influences on the 21st century lifestyles and this more so when analyzed from the perspectives that as the global population wakes up to the reality of the impacts of global warming and the eventual rise in sea levels, lifestyles are bound to change.

Furthermore, research reveals that there are myriad of challenges in dealing with the reality of rise in sea levels. A small increase in sea levels has the capacity to generate dramatic impacts in global coastal environments. The aspect of how human settlement in going to change along these regions points out at one of the significant shifts in human lifestyles.

According to Brklacich, Chazan, & Dawe (2007), “with sea level projected to rise at an accelerated rate for at least several centuries, very large numbers of people in vulnerable locations are going to be forced to relocate.” The data used in the formulation of this policy fail to differentiate between the unique environmental concerns within Manchester region and global concerns for better environmental practices.

In the article, Global Warming Could Forestall Ice Age, Revlin notes that fresh evidence indicates that human activity is not only warming the globe, particularly the Arctic, but could also even fend off what had been presumed to be an inevitable descent into a new ice age over the next few dozen millenniums (Brklacich, Chazan, & Dawe, 2007).

A number of literatures on the other hand note that the Pentagon foresees situations resulting in political instability and unrest that might require global military intervention in the worst cases, and big humanitarian rescue efforts at best. This is more so when the impacts of global warming are analyzed from transport policy issues that and the imminent impacts this has on the infrastructure and populations living in large metropolitan areas.

Whereas it is seen that rise in sea levels will undoubtedly influence or even change the food consumerism in the 21st century lifestyle as postulated by (De Young, 1996) and mostly used in the sections of the policy, this does not achieve the intended objective in convincing active interests.

The fact that increase in the volume of water in the sea will cause erosion of the wetland’s outer boundary leading to the formation of new wetlands inland and the previously dry lands will be flooded with high levels of water fails to form one of the primary reasons behind the need to ensure an effective, adequate and environmentally friendly transport for Manchester residents.

Despite the fact that data availed are indeed humbling, the primary objectives of an effective transport policy must not be lost in the confusion of global warming and climate change.

According to the IPCC (2007), “by the year 2080, 33% of the coastal wetlands globally shall be converted into open water because of the continuously rising sea levels.” Human beings must change their eating lifestyles and most specifically, their preferred food choices because of the biting shortage likely to be experienced in the 21st century and beyond.

Furthermore, data used to support the need for the policy on levying taxes on car drivers according to their vehicle’s CO2 emissions and fuel type are seemingly farfetched. It is predictable that increasing rise in sea levels will have adverse effects on aquatic life.

Aquatic life forms one of the significant sources of foods for the global needs and its demand continue to rise with the rise in population. Food policy makers must find amicable solution to the looming acute shortage of fresh foods from seas.

However, the underlying factor is the food consumption lifestyle of the global population will experience a major shift. Damage to crops due to heavy precipitation and frequency increases in some areas is likely to influence human policies in settlements, commerce, and transport.

The need for the implementation of the transport policy arises from the backdrop knowledge that global world population must make a sustainable shift in its settlement programs, commerce and transport policies. The percentage of suitable land for crop cultivation is likely to be drastically reduced.

Although new wetlands might be formed, there may be fewer in number than the number of wetlands lost due to the use of bulkheads, dikes and other structural forms preventing the formation of new wetlands inland by most developed countries.

Whereas the sensitivity and seriousness of these data cannot be underestimated and the contribution of emissions deposited by cars cannot be overlooked, the policy makers would have focused on the unique circumstances of UK and Manchester in particular.

Political Issues

One important sector that is likely to raise opposition on this policy is the building and construction industry. The sector decries a number of regulations instituted in the past and additional taxation on transport that forms a significant factor is likely to slow down the projected growth in this sub sector.

An analysis of the policy issues to combat climate change has influenced designs and methods applied in construction projects, practices in offices and homes. This includes the adoption of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), which is a progressive analysis of the environmental situation resulting from manufacturing of a product; taking into account all the design methods applied.

In achieving this feat, a victorious LCA on any organization’s building component should reflect the future prospect of a comfortable living given the modern needs of our daily living. LCA should ensure we try to rectify our past harm to the environment, as this is the most crucial sustainability strategy that any business set up must embrace (Weir, 1998).

A responsible Cooperate Social Responsibility (CSR) has to reflect the well-being of its people and a move to conserve the environment is one such obligation. The main building goal of the 21st century is to cut levels of energy in-take motivated by whole-life or cradle-to-grave interpretation.

Whereas the implementation of LCA as an environment management strategy has many benefits of improving the environment, it has come to the construction industry at a cost. The pressure on the consumers who have better knowledge on issues concerning manufacturing of goods and services that are harmful to the environment have added a twist to the whole case for the construction industry.

As a result, customers will shy away from buying products and services’ whose production are detrimental to environment sustainability.

This is a concern to players in the construction industry because they have to adopt environmentally conscious business processes, all of which come at a big expense. This policy is likely to be viewed as an attempt to derail growth within the construction industry and fail to add any value to the already burdened taxpayers.

Secondly, the pressure from opposition may this policy impossible to implement. The opposition and critics of these forms are well aware that tax reforms have a greater impact on economic development of UK. A reduction of distortion effect of current tax structure in most cases increase economic growth and economic development.

In competitive industry such as the transport industry, the intensity of competition depicts the degree to which resource allocation and investment inflow affect the market structure. The raising of tax has never been a good idea or good news in all economies. This is because it renders the government unpopular, wanes the confidence on investors and consumers, depresses economic growth, and takes money desperately needed within the economies.

Furthermore, a lump sum tax increases a fixed amount to the total cost (TC) of each firm in transport industry, independent of output. Thus, it raises Long Run Average Cost (LAC) across the board, but less for larger outputs in the industry. In this regard, the output at which LAC is smallest raises up, and at the same time the minimal value of LAC increases too.

The equilibrium price increases and the output of each firm increases. The effect of tax on the long run average cost is illustrated in diagram 2, in which p* and y* are the original equilibrium price and output per firm and p‘ and y‘ are the post-tax equilibrium price and output per firm.

effect of tax on the long run
Cossa (2008, p. 34).

The comparison of the impact of this lump sum tax with per unit tax raises the equilibrium price by equivalent amount.

In this case, lump sum tax does not affect output per firm: each firm produces y* after the tax, as it did before the tax. Thus on each unit sold the excise tax yields p‘ – p*. On the other hand, on each unit sold the lump sum tax raises p‘ – LAC(y‘), which is less than p‘ – p*. The post-tax price is the same in both cases, as well as the aggregate demand.

In this case, the excise tax raises more revenue than the lump sum tax. Lump-sum tax, therefore; is a regressive tax because it reduces with increase in taxable items. Whereas it does not result in a large tax burden on consumers, the small burden it puts on the consumers is likely to be exploited as a point of contention by the opposition.

Recommendations

Based on the facts highlighted above and more so those that have touched on the transport policy considerations, it is best to stop the implementation of the policy. This is because it fails to place the locals at the center of problems behind this policy.

Furthermore, a number of critical issues are not given enough considerations. To achieve the central objective of an effective transport policy and ensure little or no opposition to its implementation, this study is concluded by offering the following opinions based on the study on analysis of the introduction of 2002 transport policy that seeks to tax car drivers according to their vehicle’s CO2 emissions and fuel type

Transport cannot be separated from the context of the lifestyle circumstances and daily lives of the locals or administrative boundary under consideration (Hillman, 1976). It is, therefore, often necessary to discuss, initiative and implement policies that have greatest response to the challenges afflicting the community.

It is of immense importance that data collected from the views of the local form the primary basis through which transport issues and decisions are made. Knowledge based solutions to solving problems within communities are so far the best techniques.

An informed society is likely to understand the consequences of its actions and as such use this knowledge to solve its challenges that it faces daily. The entire process of policy formulation must involve the contribution of members of the local community.

  • The number of cars on the roads has been rising at phenomenal rates in the past decade and this is bearing down on the state, insurance companies and the environmental conservation efforts. One approach to address the rising number of cars on the road is a delineation of whether public transport can serve the transport needs of the majority. It is seen that this will have the benefits of gaining more insights on how to reduce the levels of emissions into the air without delving into the sensitive issue of taxation.
  • While the institution of taxes have continued to be advocated for, especially for car owners with fuel guzzlers, it is important to realize that majority of people want to see real numbers and figures on how such programs reduce the impact on the environment. In order to expand the implementation of this policy, efforts must be directed at reaching measures that would avoid a conflict between environmental impact of car use and social inclusion.
  • The development of effective transport policy formulation for large cities that is universally agreed upon is still lacking in literature. The information on the anticipated effectiveness of tax increase initiatives is still not adequate to enable political leaders, locals, government agencies and other stakeholders make sound decisions on the kind of initiatives to implement and the perceived cost effectiveness. While a wide range of measurement strategies have been devised in the past, it is advocated that broader evaluations mechanisms be developed, structured on the greater and wider general outcomes because of participation in these initiatives.
  • The results of the analysis points at the fact that efforts towards reduction in harmful emissions into the atmosphere seems to have established some legitimacy within the greater United Kingdom’s population as demonstrated by the fact that a lot of people surveyed prior to the policy formulation showed broad knowledge on the need to take keen cognizance of the environment. However, it was also discerned that transport firms, especially within the construction industry view this as an attempt to derail the growth in this sector. It is therefore recommended that future efforts be dedicated and tailored towards meeting the requirements of these players within the transport industry.
  • There is lack of variety in the types of options presented by the policy formulation committee. While this may be attributed to lack of data in the region under consideration, strategies must nonetheless be sought to include variety in order to generate the participation of a wider population. Focus should especially be geared towards availing initiatives to tackle the problem of car dependency.

Conclusion

The strengths of the chosen perspective in analyzing this policy issue hinges on its ability to dissect the inter-related issues of climate change, local needs, and flexibility of available modes of transport. These are not solitary that can be examined separately.

This chosen position regarding this policy arises from the background information that a transport policy that has failed to draw the support of stakeholders may not be popular. It is my observation that this is not the best approach in handling issues that have immense impact in the society.

The main weakness of the chosen policy is that it fails to draw in voices of discontent in the entire policy formulation process. Furthermore, this policy fails to provide timelines on how its various objectives will be achieved. It is my humble appeal that you use your powers to ensure that this policy is withdrawn and re-evaluated for the benefit of this nation.

References

Brklacich, M., Chazan, M., & Dawe, A. 2007. Vulnerabilities of societies under Global Environmental Change (GEC). Washington, DC: Island Press.

Cossa, L. 2008, Taxation: Its Principles and Methods. New York: BiblioBazaar, LLC.

De Young, R. 1996. Some psychological aspects of a reduced consumption lifestyle: The role of intrinsic satisfaction and competence. Environment and Behavior, 28 (1) 358 – 409.

DETR (Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions) 1998. A New Deal for Transport: Better for Everyone. London: The Stationery Office.

DoE/DoT (Department of Transport) 1994. Planning Policy Guidance 13: Transport. London: HMSO

ECMT 1995. Urban Travel and Sustainable Development. Paris: ECMT/OECD.

Glaister, S. and Graham, D. 1996. Who Spends what on Motoring in the UK? Basingstoke: AA Group Public Policy.

Hillman, M. 1976. Social goals for transport Policy, in Institution of Civil Engineers Transport for Society. London: ICE.

IPCC. 2007. Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom.

Weir, G. 1998.Life Cycle Assessment of multi-glazed windows. Ph.D. thesis, Napier University.