Excerpt of Netherlands map. Image credit:Adam Stein, at TerraPass
WIth binding emissions targets now off the bargaining table in Copenhagen ("Depressenhagen"), it is time to set aside "process" - the catch-all term for international treaties and target setting mechanisms - and focus on "outcomes" - the policy choices and technologies that national and state governments can experiment with. The Netherlands has a fairly straightforward idea they are moving forward on. AFP reports, via Google, that "Ownership and sales taxes, about a quarter of the cost of a new car, will be scrapped and replaced by the "price per kilometre" system aimed at cutting the Netherlands' carbon dioxide emissions by 10 percent." The enabler is GPS, of course. What I find particularly fascinating is that the US government and US corporations created and maintain the geostationary satellites that will make this work.The TerraPass blog points out that this scheme has been in the planning stage for years and that rates are commensurate with congestion cost impacts: Netherlands plans massive road-pricing scheme.
This program is revenue-neutral, and will help to make roads more accessible to low-income drivers by charging people for actual road use rather than for car ownership. The system will also benefit drivers by reducing the amount of time stuck in traffic.For sure, if the US Federal government proposed a tax swap like this one there would be astroturf-sponsored 'Town Hall' meetings with screeching opponents carrying signs with "Don't Tread On Me" or 'First they put GPS on your truck, then they come for your guns.'
One interesting quirk of the system: because a straight vehicle tax is being swapped for a per-mile fee, cars will actually become cheaper and car ownership should therefore go up. Total miles driven, on the other hand, will drop.
Because car registrations are all state administered in the USA, for a small, densely populated and congestion plagued state like New Jersey, a system like this might make sense. Metro-LA too.
Anyhow, I wish them luck in the Netherlands. With the primary benefit being congestion relief, not climate protection, it might just fly.
Next up: let's see what the French are doing!