Government measures raising the price of single-use carrier bag from 5p to 10p have been introduced across England today.

The 5p levy on plastic bags was introduced in England in 2015. Wales were the first to introduce the measure in Britain back in 2011, with Scotland following in 2014.

Environment Minister, Rebecca Pow said “The introduction of the 5p charge has been a phenomenal success”, and evidence has shown the measure has dramatically reduced the use of single-use plastic bags in England since the measure was implemented. Pow went on to say “We know we must go further to protect our natural environment and oceans.”

What Pow fails to mention is the massive amounts of pollution still ravaging waters throughout the world at the hands of multi-national corporations and fossil fuel producers. No plastic bag levy, or even outright ban, will shift this unless Governments work together to target the operations of these MNCs.

Moreover, the hiked levy today represents a continued attempt by the UK Government to shift the blame away from corporations responsible for pollution on an industrial scale, towards individual consumers who represent a drop in the ocean (pun intended), in comparison.

Not only are they trying to shift the blame; they are attempting to shift the cost onto ordinary families already struggling to make ends meet throughout the Pandemic. This is not to say that 5/10p is going to break the bank for individual consumers, but it is the principle of the matter whereby largescale polluters are able to sidestep Green policies through unofficial networks dodging taxes and levies wherever they please, while working families are forced to pay, either for single-use bags, or for more expensive alternatives.

The UK Government are further seeking to bolster their green credentials this move, despite falling behind even big-business. Both the Co-op and Morrisons have already stopped selling plastic carrier bags in store, favouring more eco-friendly alternatives. The UK Government’s track record on the climate is abysmal, and it’s time to call them out on it. We have already seen attempts to silence climate opposition and this cannot be allowed to continue.

Rather than shifting the blame onto individual families, the Government needs to take ownership of the Climate Crisis. Ahead of the COP 26, to be held in Glasgow in November, we have to demand ambitious policies that are actually capable of dealing with the Crisis at hand. We cannot afford piecemeal levies and individual acts targeting gradual shifts in consumer behaviour over time.

The time for gradual change is gone. The time for Climate Justice is long overdue.

Peter Stoddart

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