Scrap scrappage! - pre-budget comment

12 April 2009

A leading Green campaigner today told the BBC evening news that the "scrappage" policy likely to feature in this month's Budget is "fundamentally flawed."

Party spokesperson Peter Cranie said the proposed policy - which would involve paying people up to £2,000 to scrap their car and purchase a new one - would have neither economic nor environmental benefits.

Interviewed for this evening's BBC television news, Peter Cranie said:

"This was tried in Germany, and it failed on both counts.

"Consumers have simply shifted their spending from elsewhere in the economy, which has just shunted job losses elsewhere."

He added:

"This kind of scheme is simply not the best way of creating jobs. There are a wide range of Green measures that would immediately create huge numbers of jobs - for instance, a massive programme of home energy-saving measures, which would create almost 140,000 UK jobs and would save people money on their fuel bills."

Liverpool-based Mr Cranie, who is North West Green Party's lead candidate for the 4th June Euro-elections, concluded:

"Scrappage is not going to help the environment. What has happened in Germany is that people trade up to get bigger cars, so it doesn't reduce emissions.

"In short, paying people to scrap old cars and buy new ones will not create jobs, and will not cut emissions."

Cars "should be quality-built to last"

The Green Party's national spokesperson on sustainable development, transport consultant Professor John Whitelegg, last week told Classic Car Weekly, a magazine which is running an online petition against scrappage (1, 2):

"In the Green Party's view, cars - like most things - should be quality-built to last. They should be capable of being upgraded and retrofitted as technology improves.

"Some years ago a study showed that if a car's life was extended from ten years to twenty, there were significant benefits in terms of both pollution and employment. Specifically, doubling the car's life reduced its lifetime energy-use by 42% compared with scrapping it and building a new one, because repair and maintenance were more energy-efficient than new manufacture. And at the same time it increased the labour involved by 56%, because repair and maintenance were more labour-intensive than new manufacture.

"This is a very important factor as we try to tackle both a recession and the climate crisis - we need jobs and we need reduced emissions - so we need to go with the processes that involve more labour and less energy use. And that ultimately means building cars to last, then looking after them.

"Scrapping a perfectly good car is an outrageous thing to do from a Green Party perspective. Some 15% of the total energy associated with the car is in its manufacture - what's called the "embodied energy" - and when you scrap the car before its useful life has ended, that's energy thrown away.

"There is uproar in Germany at the moment over the present scheme, and with good reason. A lot of people are trading-in relatively efficient cars and buying new cars which are up to four times worse. For us Greens, that's entirely the wrong policy, both because we need to create jobs and because we need to reduce energy-use."

Notes

1. Classic Car Weekly's case against scrappage can be found at http://www.great-cars.co.uk/images/stories/pdfs/ccw-scrapthescrappage.pdf.
2. Classic Car Weekly's online petition to "scrap the scrappage" can be found at http://www.great-cars.co.uk/petition/ccw-petition-apr09.php.






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