British motorists could find themselves allocated quotas on how much carbon they can emit under new government proposals.
On Monday night, the Environment Secretary David Miliband spoke of trying to persuade the EU to extend its emissions-trading scheme to the roads.
If successful, car-owners could be given a carbon allowance which they could extend by buying surplus credits from other road-users whose own emissions fall below their allocated quota.
In a speech delivered in Cambridge, Mr Miliband said: "We need to consider whether surface transport could become part of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme."
The immediate goal for the EU is to bring major airlines into an emissions-trading scheme, a position which is supported by British Airways among others.
However, Mr Miliband said that in order to genuinely deliver a low-carbon transport policy the EU must also extend the scheme to road-users.
Despite the plans being still in their infancy, they have already attracted concern from motoring groups.
Paul Biggs, spokesman for the Association of British Drivers said: "This is just another attempt to price motorists off the road."
"Britain only accounts for two per cent of global CO2 emissions and only a fifth of this comes from road transport."
The Association claim that attempts to manipulate carbon emissions are futile in averting global warming.
He added that a significant number of scientists maintain that climate change is a natural, rather than man-made phenomenon, and that attempts to impose taxes on motorists are nothing more than a way of raising revenue for governments.
"They may as well be trading hot air," Mr Biggs said.
Mike Childs, Head of Campaigns at Friends of the Earth, said that it was against all scientific evidence to say that driving 4X4s would not be detrimental to the environment.
However he was also cautious about the use of emissions-trading, saying that it was a long term solution that yielded no immediate results.
He said: "We would like to see some of the tools that the government already has in its tool kit being used."
Such tools include green taxes on high-emissions cars such as those being introduced in London's congestion charging zone. Ken Livingstone, London's Mayor, is behind plans to introduce a £25 charge on so-called 'Chelsea tractors' – while eco-friendly cars will be exempt from the tax altogether.
Mr Miliband said that he hoped that more of these cars could be produced: "In the medium term, we should see the growth of lighter more fuel-efficient cars, biofuels and hybrid electric cars, including plug-in hybrid cars that can be charged externally.
"Studies suggest that as well as a 15 to 20 per cent saving in carbon emissions from improving the efficiency of internal combustion engines, we could see a further 20 per cent improvement from hybrids.
Microsoft VBScript runtime
Microsoft VBScript runtimeerror '800a01fb'
An exception occurred: 'hz.next'
/_website/pagebase/article.asp, line 344