Surging Fuel Prices Spur Green Backlash in Europe

<p>With dramatically increasing fuel costs, European consumers formerly amenable to "green" taxes are turning against them, leading to fears that ambitious emission-control policies may not be achievable.</p>
May 29, 2008, 12pm PDT | Michael Dudley
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"While Europe has led the way in using tax incentives to encourage people to buy low-emission cars and to build carbon-neutral houses in order to meet Kyoto targets, it has become increasingly apparent that inflation-battered voters are no longer willing to go along.

In Britain, drivers Tuesday held a mass traffic stoppage over a new surtax, introduced by Prime Minister Gordon Brown as a way to encourage people to buy more fuel-efficient cars, that would have raised the average family's vehicle taxes by $80, with higher-polluting vehicles paying more and very efficient ones being exempt.

Political leaders in Britain and France are seeking the reversal of tax policies designed to make polluting vehicles more expensive, with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and some British ministers calling on their own governments and the European Union to relax ecologically friendly taxes in order to give relief to citizens suffering from fast-rising food and fuel prices.

As [Canadian] Prime Minister Stephen Harper launches a European tour Wednesday to persuade leaders that Canada's greenhouse-gas policies are acceptable, he may find the gaps between their views have narrowed, as formerly ecologically assertive leaders react to rising voter backlash against green policies."

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Published on Wednesday, May 28, 2008 in The Globe & Mail
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