Cut Carbon now!

In March this year, the Government launched its consultation on Decarbonising Transport: Setting the Challenge which we’re urging people to respond to before the end of August. While it was criticised by some for only being a consultation on creating a plan, not on a plan itself, and for some of its content, it nonetheless came with some pretty strong messages.

For the first time we had a Secretary of State for Transport saying: “Public transport and active travel will be the natural first choice for our daily activities.” and even more surprising: “We will use our cars less…” clearly signalling that we cannot continue with business as usual. Since then we’ve had the experience of several months of lockdown and an even stronger feeling, shared by much of the public, that change is needed.

Of course it doesn’t mean that everything is suddenly ok and that we can sit back and relax because at long last the Government is starting to develop joined up policies and gets the importance of walking, cycling and public transport. If only it were that simple!

The Government still seems wedded to its £27 billion carbon intensive and highly damaging strategic roads programme. It is also spending billions on local roads through a variety of other funds. Clearly it is still firmly addicted to new roads, something we need to wean it off, if we are to have any chance of significantly reducing carbon emissions to meet our international obligations.

As recent research has shown, just building all the roads in the second Roads Investment Strategy (the one we’re challenging in the High Court) would increase carbon emissions by 20 million tonnes of CO2 by 2032. This is at a time when we need to be making drastic cuts and would wipe out most of the savings from electric cars. One of the key messages we are urging people to say to the Government is stop making things worse. These are our headline comments:

Government should take clear leadership

  1. Set mandatory carbon budgets for transport (separate for both surface transport and
  2. aviation) with a clear pathway to net zero at both a national and regional level
  3. Set a road traffic reduction target nationally to give a clear steer that technical solutions are
  4. not enough
  5. Create an affordable, clean and fully integrated sustainable transport network including
  6. for rural areas funded by road pricing
  7. Create a fair and just transport system that doesn’t leave people behind and improves
  8. public health and wellbeing
  9. Increase faster broadband rollout, increasing speeds and capacity

Stop making things worse:

  1. Repurpose money for roads from RIS2 and other funding streams into positive solutions that will reduce emissions
  2. Fully integrate sustainable transport into planning and stop enabling car dependent developments

Responding to the consultation is pretty straightforward. You can email comments, like the ones above, to: TDP@dft.gov.uk

Or you can fill in the online questionnaire. If you’d like some guidance on what to say (but please use your own words where you can) you might like to take a look at our briefing.

Please also encourage others to respond. This is a critical moment in time and we only have a relatively small window to get this right.

The consultation ends on 31st August 2020.

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