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Roads to Nowhere

Rogue department needs to join in efforts to tackle climate change

21 June 2007
Growing emissions from transport will force big cuts in other sectors if Government targets on carbon emissions are to be met, according to new research.

The research, conducted by consultants MTRU [1] for Transport 2000 [2], shows that homes, businesses and power stations will have to cut their carbon emissions by 42% on 1990 levels by 2020 (15% beyond existing trends), if Government targets in the Climate Change Bill are to be met and transport emissions continue to increase as forecast. The research describes the prospect of achieving such cuts – 15% beyond current trends – as “simply not credible”.

By contrast, the research says that cuts in transport emissions are essential, possible and equitable. As a first step, it proposes emissions targets backed by changes in transport taxation, including a new sales tax on inefficient cars. The overall aim will be to keep motoring costs stable – but only for those buying and running low-emission cars. The report also proposes a radical plan to redistribute any surplus from new transport taxes to individuals through a kind of “eco-bonus” scheme.

Report author Keith Buchan said, “It has been assumed by many economists – including Sir Nicholas Stern – that it is difficult and expensive to cut carbon emissions from transport, and that people won’t accept it. But my research shows that it’s actually cheaper to cut emissions from transport than from some other sectors, providing that the current piecemeal approach can be avoided.”

Transport 2000 Campaigns Director Jason Torrance said the Government should act on the research findings: “This research shows that the DfT is a rogue department within a Government working to tackle climate change. It must take urgent and effective action to tackle carbon emissions from transport, and that there are politically acceptable ways of doing this. The DfT must reverse the current trend of rising greenhouse gas emissions from transport and implement a clear carbon reduction strategy which seeks to change behavior and redistribute the money rather than simply raise revenues.”

Notes to editors

[1] MTRU is a leading transport planning consultancy

[2] Transport 2000 is an independent campaigning and research body that represents the key transport interests of around 40 environmental groups, transport organisations and transport unions. We bring together people who seek to reduce the environmental and social effects of transport through encouraging less use of cars, lorries and planes and more use of rail, buses, trams, cycling and walking.