There are currently 1.6 million automobiles on Istanbul’s roads, according to Embarq Türkiye — and each day, 640 more are registered.
Following British and German models, the Turkish Finance Ministry has begun designing a new scheme for taxes on motor vehicles and their purchase, reports Turkish paper Hürriyet Daily News. Under the plan, the taxes will be based on the amount of pollution emitted by a vehicle, rather than the engine capacity and age of the vehicle, as used to be the case.
In the UK and Germany, vehicle taxes are based on amount of CO2 emitted per kilometer traveled. Transportation accounts for nearly one-third of all CO2 emissions in the European Union.
But since 1990, overall greenhouse gas emissions in the EU have decreased — unlike Turkey, where they doubled between 1990 and 2009. Furthermore, it has become more expensive to fuel a vehicle in Turkey than nearly anywhere else in the world; last year, the price of gasoline at the pump reached approximately $10 per gallon in Turkey.
Turkey has made some efforts to reduce emissions from transportation, mainly on the research side. In July 2011, the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) hosted Turkey’s first alternative energy vehicle races, showcasing prototypes of cars fueled by solar power and hydrogen.
The proposed emissions-based tax on vehicles, however, would be a far more sweeping and effective policy for quickly reducing Turkey’s transport-related emissions.
No extra tax burden?
Turkish Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek emphasized to Hürriyet that the goal of the new emissions-based taxes is “not to raise income… [but] to leave a clean environment for future generations.” To prove this point, Şimşek added that the taxes on engine capacity and vehicle age might be reduced so that the emissions-based tax can be as high as possible without burdening consumers with too much added tax.
Furthermore, the new taxes will only apply to cars manufactured after the regulation has been decided and put in place. There is no word on when the new tax scheme will be complete.
Fuel-efficient cars are nowhere near as popular in Turkey as they are in Western Europe, though some have penetrated the Turkish market. The prices of automatic hybrids have kept Turkish demand for them low, but in 2011, the world’s first manual-gear hybrid, the Honda CR-Z, arrived in Turkey for the price of $30,000.
Hopefully, the new taxes will boost consumer interest in more fuel-efficient cars. To fully tackle Turkey’s transportation emissions, however, the public transit and bike-friendly infrastructure of its biggest cities must be improved.
:: Hürriyet Daily News
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