Petrol prices to continue rising

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PETROL PRICES will continue to rise to reduce Britain's emissions of carbon dioxide, the gas mainly responsible for global warming, Michael Howard, Secretary of State for the Environment, warned yesterday, writes David Nicholson-Lord.

Mr Howard said that the Budget's 10 per cent increase in fuel tax, presented by ministers as a measure to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, 'declared a strategy for the future'.

His speech was to a London conference on climate change marking the end of five months' consultation by the Department of the Environment on the UK's carbon dioxide programme.

Transport fuel duties would continue to rise in real terms by an average of 3 per cent a year, as outlined in the Budget, bringing an estimated 15 per cent saving in carbon dioxide emissions.

The Government had to continue shifting vehicle taxation from ownership to use, looking at charging for road use as well.

Mr Howard said last year's climate change convention meant curbing UK emissions by 10 million tonnes of carbon by the end of the century. Measures such as the Energy Savings Trust, which gives grants towards installing efficient boilers, and the Budget taxes would take Britain two- thirds of the way.

But a more co-ordinated transport strategy would probably be needed. This included integration of transport and planning, reducing the need to travel and providing facilities for walkers, cyclists and public transport users.

The environmental lobby said the move owed more to the desire to raise revenue than reduce global warming and would not reduce emissions by as much as ministers claimed.