Reinfeldt favours exhaust tax

Swedish prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt says he is considering a shift from taxing vehicles to taxing their emissions, as his Moderate Party pushes forward with new proposals to counter the threat to the climate.

Speaking to 1,800 local Moderate politicians in Örebro, Reinfeldt pointed out that environmental policies were central to the party’s continued growth. He painted a picture of the most disturbing effects of climate change, such as flooding, the eradication of seasons, extinct species and extreme weather.

“The good news is that we can do something about it. We have a great deal of knowledge and technology. We’re not talking about enormous costs,” said Reinfeldt.

The prime minister now wants to give the environment a central role as the Moderates develop their policies for the next election in 2010.

A working group will be given the task of coming up with new proposals before the party conference in 2009. These will focus primarily on measures for reducing emissions within the transport sector and from heating homes.

Reinfeldt offered one concrete idea. He said that he would consider removing or reducing the vehicle tax and instead taxing the emission of carbon dioxide more heavily.

That could take the form of an increased tax on fuel or a tariff based on how much carbon dioxide specific cars release. The prime minister said that it was important to tax the emission, not the car.

He acknowledged that it was a problem that 40 percent of Sweden’s cars are more than 10 years old and that many vehicles still do not have catalytic converters.

The country’s ruling alliance has promised to introduce some form of bonus for people who buy an environmentally-friendly car. A bill will be presented to parliament in the autumn but Reinfeldt said it was too soon to say if the government was ready to introduce such a scheme.