Toward environment-friendly car tax
According to the Korean Medical Association, a public health risk factor that Korean people are most afraid of today is the fine dust under 10μm.
Nevertheless, people use cheap electricity and ride on diesel vehicles because of the high efficiency and low fuel cost when they are closely associated with the fine dust.
Initially, diesel-powered vehicles were dominant in Europe, but when regulations on nitrogen oxide and fine dust became enhanced to protect the environment, diesel vehicles have been showing clear decrease since 2011. Norway has been promoting electric vehicles and strengthened regulations on diesel vehicles, and the portion of diesel vehicles have decreased to 40.8 percent in 2015, by 7.9 percent from the previous year.
Korea must trace and test 4.1 million units manufactured before 2005 under the Euro 3 standards. 01.6 million vehicles manufactured under Euro 4 standards introduced in 2006 should also be under special control. Also, imposing environmental improvement charge on the diesel vehicles produced under Euro 5 and 6 can also be an option to improve citizens’ right to health.
The rapid increase of diesel vehicles in Korea can be found from the second energy taxation reform in 2005 and permitting diesel-powered passenger cars. Here, the tax rate on petroleum, diesel and LPG was adjusted to 100:85:50. Diesel’s social cost, including environmental pollution and traffic congestion, is 121 percent of petroleum. The industrial theory ignored the fact that diesel vehicles harms environment and produces more first-class carcinogens fatal to human bodies.
In other countries, electric vehicles and LPG fueled vehicles are recommended as alternatives to reduce fine dust. However, Korean laws restrict personal use of LPG vehicles due to unstable LPG fuel supply and reduction of tax revenue, so there seem to be no other option to discourage prevalence of diesel vehicles.
In the tax reform on transport vehicles, environment should be prioritized over industry. It is desirable to adjust the tax on petroleum, diesel and LPG to 100:120:50. Restrictions should be lifted to allow personal use of environmentally friendly LPG vehicles in order to prevent the balloon effect of choosing petroleum vehicles, main culprit of greenhouse gas emission, instead of diesel vehicles.
Also, we may want to consider France’s action to primarily impose tolls on diesel vehicles and gradually banning them from the road. It is a duty of a nation to protect people’s basic right to exercise and live a healthy life.