Economy faces climate 'calamity'

A 700-page Government report on climate change has predicted the 'biggest global economic crash since the 1930s' - paving the way for a host of new green taxes.

Heavy taxes being pushed for by ministers include VAT on airline tickets, duty on aviation fuel and higher air passenger duty - together raising the price of a typical family flying abroad by 20% or more.

With bigger taxes on motoring, the annual cost to families if all the schemes being discussed by ministers go ahead could be more than £1,000 a year.

However, for the least-green households, the tax penalty could be even more severe. A London family of four that has a 4x4 on the drive, keeps the heating turned high, has a gas heater in the garden and takes cheap flights abroad each year can expect to be hit by £2,000 more in duties.

Launching the 700-page Stern Report into climate change, the Prime Minister said people had no choice but to make sacrifices or face disaster. 'This report will be seen as a landmark in the struggle against climate change,î Mr Blair said.

'It reinforces the overwhelming scientific view that our planet is on the edge of calamity. It also gives us the clearest evidence yet that bold and decisive action can still prevent it.
He and Gordon Brown stood shoulder to shoulder to launch the findings of Sir Nicholas Stern's widely-leaked report, the most comprehensive study yet into the potential effects of global warming.

The Chancellor has conspicuously refused to rule out using his Budget to impose hefty new taxes on petrol, flights and gas guzzling cars.

A range of possible taxes to punish domestic carbon polluters were proposed in a leaked submission to the Treasury from Environment Secretary David Miliband.

They included the return of the unpopular fuel escalator - annual petrol duty rises - which sparked the fuel protests in 2000 and taxes worth around 10p per litre.

Other measures were pay-per-mile road charges; taxes on inefficient domestic appliances, such as old-fashioned dishwashers; duties on aviation fuel, a higher air passenger levy and more charges for household rubbish.

Mr Blair said it was necessary to 'be bolder at home' which implied that the leaked tax plans would have to be considered. There was speculation the leak was part of a 'kite-flying' exercise to see if voters responded angrily or could be softened up.

Both he and Mr Brown emphasised the need for international action, saying that without China, India and the United States joining in nothing would be achievable.

The Chancellor revealed that former US vice-president Al Gore - now a prominent environmental campaigner - has agreed to be his adviser on the issue. Mr Brown strongly backed Sir Nicholas's call for an international carbon-trading scheme, in which companies would get permits to produce a certain amount of pollution. for all your property needs.