Chief Minister ‘mistaken’ over climate change cost of living
MANY Islanders will see their cost of living fall rather than rise when new climate protection policies are introduced, an environmental campaigner has said dismissing recent remarks made by the Chief Minister.
Earlier this week, Senator John Le Fondré warned that last month’s States decision to declare a climate change emergency and target carbon neutrality by 2030 would clash with other work being carried out to control the rising inflation rate.
The Chief Minister said that additional environmental taxes, such as on petrol, could further increase the Island retail price index, which at 3.6% is double the UK rate, meaning Jersey’s cost of living is increasing more quickly.
But Nigel Jones, chairman of environmental awareness group Jersey in Transition, said that money raised through such measures could be used to reduce costs for Islanders with good environmental habits, thereby reducing their cost of living.
He added that to do so would be ‘fiscally neutral’, meaning overall average cost of living would not be affected.
‘Our Chief Minister is talking about all the things that we could add a tax or charge to. That’s a mistake. If we just did that the States would be richer and have more money coming in and yes, it would be inflationary,’ he said.
‘But if they use the money in a fiscally neutral way for things like free buses, subsidised electric bikes, incentives for people to insulate homes and businesses or free public water fountains for people to fill their bottles, that would reduce costs for many people.
‘Why not use the money that comes in to encourage things that we want to see?’
He added: ‘What a climate emergency is going to mean is there are going to be taxes and charges and surcharges for some sorts of behaviour.
‘But there is going to be incentives and benefits and help with other kinds of behaviour. So, people who hold out and say, “I like my life the way it is” will see their cost of living rising.
‘But people who do want to change their behaviour and think we need to make necessary changes to help the climate will see their cost of living reduced.’
Mr Jones said that in the long term if climate change is not addressed the environmental damage will cause everyone’s cost of living to increase.
‘When I was a young salesman they used to tell us when the customer says they can’t afford something, you say to them, “Can you afford not to do this?”’ he said.
‘Climate change is a classic example. The costs down the line will be vast unless we do something about it.’
Deputy Rob Ward, who tabled the Climate Change Emergency proposition in the States, was contacted for comment.