My question is "Are there any members of the CPC that could/would step up and stand behind these ideas?"
FT.com / UK - Japan inspires Tories' land of rising green tax
Article (just in case):
Japan inspires Tories' land of rising green tax
By James Blitz, Political Editor
Published: August 31 2006 03:00 | Last updated: August 31 2006 03:00
George Osborne [English MP] is in Japan today. The shadow chancellor acknowledges that some might find this a strange choice for a high-profile visit at the start of the new political season. In the age of globalisation, so much of the focus is on the growth of China and India that Japan has been somewhat neg-lected by British politicians.
But Mr Osborne believes the world's second largest economy still has much to teach Britain. "Japan has maintained its manufacturing strength and has a trade surplus with China when our own trade deficit with China is actually growing," he told the FT.
Mr Osborne also argues that Japan has much to teach the UK about the need to develop skills. "An educated workforce is essential to competitiveness and Britain still does not have the skilled workforce it needs."
But it is Japan's environmental policy record that has really aroused his interest, and why Tokyo is the place where he today sets out a new pledge by the Conservatives to increase the taxation of environmentally damaging behaviour.
Mr Osborne insists this policy should not be of concern to British business. "Japanese companies are showing the world how new technologies can not only improve our quality of life but improve the environment and economic efficiency too," he says.
He cites several facts to back his case. Japan, he says, emits 90 tonnes of carbon per million dollars of gross domestic product, compared with 125 tonnes in the UK. In 2004, Fujitsu, the computer giant, reduced its consumption of electricity by 25 per cent.
Above all, he says, the development of Japan's MagLev ultra-fast railway system, is "a clear example of improving the economy and improving environmental standards at the same time".
"I want us to look seriously at how an ultra-fast rail system could be introduced in Britain," he says.
To many, the thought of Britain enjoying 600 kph train travel will seem the stuff of dreams. However, Mr Osborne's commitment to raise green taxes is more concrete and immediate.
Since he became shadow chancellor, hard pledges on economic policy from him and David Cameron have been rare. "But I am now saying that there will be a shift in burden of taxation away from 'good' things like investment savings and income towards 'bad' things like pollution."
Steve Norris, the former minister who heads the Tories' environment task force, has been vociferous in talking about this kind of approach. Mr Norris has said the Tories need to look at taxing short-haul air travel and car use. Mr Osborne says he is pleased Mr Norris is thinking hard about these issues but is careful not to rule anything in or out.
"We are still two or three years from a general election. As we come closer to the election, and as we see what state public finances are in, we can be more specific," he says. His caution does not come only from fears about second-guessing the state of the economy a few years from now. Green taxation is a politically treacherous area. Take a tax on aviation. The Conservatives might want to get more people travelling by Euro-star to Europe but they do not want to stop the family in Liverpool being priced out of their holiday to Spain.
"A tax will only work if it is significant - and if it is so significant that it makes the cheap family holiday unaffordable it may be a political liability," says one senior Tory. "But you could tax people at certain times of day or only on domestic flights."
All told, Mr Osborne starts the new political season in an upbeat mood. "At no point in my adult life has it been more exciting to be a Conservative. We are making the political weather and setting the terms of the political debate.
"It was because David Cameron took the decision to make environmental policy a priority that all the other parties are now playing political catch-up."
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2008