Local Transport Today (LTT) is a UK local authority magazine for transport professionals. The latest issue has a 3 page interview with two prominent members of the recently re-branded anti-car/anti-roads organisation ‘Transport 2000,’ funded by the bus and rail industries, and now known as the ‘Campaign for Better Transport ‘(except car transport, of course). The interview with Jason Torrance (ex-Greenpeace) and Stephen Joseph is entitled ‘Campaigning for better transport, but who’s it better for?’
Joseph is quoted thus:
Joseph accepts there are still some people having an “upstream debate” about the science of climate change but he doesn’t think this should interfere with discussions about transport policy. “In a way the debate about whether climate change is happening or not, or is caused by humans or not is one removed [from transport] because, like it or not, the politicians have bought an argument that climate change is real, is caused by human emissions and transport’s a quarter of these in UK terms. Therefore transport’s going to be a target for emission cuts.”
George Monbiot is guest speaker at their Road Block Conference on 27th October.
Moving on, another article reports on a transport and climate change conference at the British Museum in London:
A hushed silence fell across the auditorium at last week’s transport and climate change conference in the British Museum as one delegate broke the day’s consensus by mounting a spirited defence of people’s desire and right to use their leisure time to travel to more and more faraway destinations. Soon the silence was broken by mutterings of despair, accompanied by the shaking of heads, as the delegate went on to express the view that for leisure trips in the UK the car was usually the only practical option. If the Government wanted to try and cut carbon dioxide emissions then perhaps it should concentrate on economic sectors other than transport, he added.
A couple of delegates openly challenged what they had just heard and one summed up his exasperation by making a general remark about the lack of political appetite for controlling car use: “I’ve heard so much about car bashing and yet we don’t do it enough.”
But event chairman, BBC environment analyst Roger Harrabin, detected that, though the gentleman may have sounded like a contrarian to most of the 90-strong audience, he was probably reflecting the views of quite a large section of the British public. “This guy speaks for a huge majority of the population,” suggested Harrabin.
A succession of votes showed that the vast majority of the audience (a mix of central and local government officers, consultants, transport operators, academics and NGOs) did indeed hold diametrically opposite views to this man.
On a lighter note, I enjoyed this letter to the editor:
Attacks on aviation are motivated by ideology, not science
With several correspondents attacking aviation (Letters LTT 27 Sep), once again we see atmospheric science failing to co-operate with politicised motivations on the ground.
Just as the absence of predicted warming in the troposphere starts to hit home on those who want to use tree food gas (carbon dioxide) as a green flag of convenience on the back road to localised medieval lifestyles and economic collapse, we find a recent groundbreaking publication in Nature upsetting another false consensus, that affecting the stratosphere (The troposphere and the stratosphere happen to be the two layers of the atmosphere through which aircraft fly).
Comments from the scientific community on the work (by Rex) summarise the situation well and reflect very badly on extremists claiming that the science is settled:
“Scientists will have to rethink their understanding of how ozone holes are formed and how that relates to climate change.” Quirin Schiermeier, News@Nature, 26 September 2007
“Our understanding of [atmospheric] chloride chemistry has really been blown apart.” John Crowley, Max Planck Institute of Chemistry, 26 September 2007
So, instead of jumping headlong into quality of life oblivion – or, more likely, allowing ourselves to be sleepwalked into the same nightmare – the precautionary principle actually dictates that we hold back from precipitous, costly and pointless action. Particularly when the words of Charles Secrett at a Labour Party/Greenpeace fringe meeting show that the motive behind attacks on air travel is anything but environmental – he stressed that ABC1s, the top social groups, were responsible for 70 per cent of flights. So, after taxing lifestyle on the road, dinosaur envyists want to tax lifestyle in the air and any flag of convenience will do.
Now aviation is the cause célebre for mobility hating Armageddonists, it must be sorely disappointing that 4x4s can’t fly.
“the top social groups, were responsible for 70 per cent of flights. So, after taxing lifestyle on the road, dinosaur envyists want to tax lifestyle in the air and any flag of convenience will do”
They got the cart before the horse there. Blow the 4 x 4’s, let’s hit the b’s right at the top first up hey.
Seriously, the airbus etc has to be considered bulk transport today. Has fuel consumption per capita gone down since double decca planes?
Paul Biggs says
Good question Gavin. New aircraft/engines are definately more fuel efficient.
That people see reducing emissions as a restriction on their lifestyle and freedom seem to be more to do with the success of marketing and advertising than anything else.
As for emission reductions causing ecomonomic downturns and being too costly…?
If economic downturns and mispending is your concern, then I would be interested to see what else you think is costly and uneccessary spending in the economy? I’m sure you can find bigger black holes than the money going to emissions reductions…
I’m all for discouraging car use – the exhaust stinks and is harmful to health. The authorities spend our money to stop people smoking, but their policies only serve to increase car usage, so degrading air quality in urban areas.
Paul Biggs says
In Europe we have the super clean ‘Euro IV’ standard for engine emissions. My car is a Euro IV, and so is my wife’s. Unfortunatley, large diesel bus engines are generally older and don’t confrorm to modern standards – they really stink, plus emit lots of NOx and particulates, not to mention the respirable carcinogens 3-NBA and 1-8 DNP.