Carbon Plan shows a disappointing shortfall in policy breadth

Despite some fantastic coverage in last Sunday’s Observer, David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Chris Huhne this week launched the Carbon Plan to very little media response, reports Eleanor Besley.

Despite some fantastic coverage in last Sunday’s Observer, David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Chris Huhne this week launched the Carbon Plan to very little media response.

The plan, which sets out a vision of “a changed Britain, powered by cleaner energy used more efficiently in our homes and businesses, with more secure energy supplies and more stable energy prices, and benefiting from the jobs and growth that a low carbon economy will bring” was developed quietly and released with equal restraint, but essentially focuses on:

1. The way we generate electricity;

2. The way we heat our homes;

3. The way we travel.

All very admirable, although a closer look at the transport section shows a disappointing shortfall in policy breadth.

Transport is an engine for economic growth, tick; domestic transport accounts for 22% of UK greenhouse gas emissions, tick; it is imperative that we develop and improve vehicle technologies, tick; the government will work to support sustainable travel choices and alternatives to travel, and to promote sustainable distribution of goods and sustainable low carbon approaches to other forms of transport, including rail, aviation and shipping…

High speed rail, hmm; bio fuels, hmm; mustn’t forget the funding of £560 million for the Local Sustainable Transport Fund will enable local bodies to deliver sustainable transport solutions that support local economies and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

But hang on… Where is land use planning and why is local transport an afterthought when 23 per cent of car journeys are less than 2 miles long and 56 per cent less than 5 miles?

Smarter travel choices, in the form of walking or cycling, are real options for many people for many of these journeys and can present quick wins. We know this because the Committee on Climate Change told us in their 2009 first annual report to parliament. Governments of all colours have invested in programmes to establish how effective modal shift programmes can be and to look at the impact of land use planning.

When will these things stop being innovative and edge their way into mainstream policy?

Equally disappointing is this week’s publication of the European Union Roadmap for moving to a low carbon economy by 2050, which in advance of the EU white paper on transport outlines a sectoral approach to achieving carbon reduction targets. The Roadmap focuses almost entirely on technological innovation despite a suggestion that this would have a positive impact on health.

 As far as I am aware, electric vehicles are not getting people active or reducing road danger (being currently heavier than petrol cars) so the link with health is perplexing. Still, here’s to hoping that the monitoring of departmental progress of the Carbon Plan is to be taken on, as in some places reported, by NGOs; I think they might have something to say…

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7 Responses to “Carbon Plan shows a disappointing shortfall in policy breadth”

  1. Eleanor Besley

    RT @leftfootfwd: Carbon Plan shows a disappointing shortfall in policy breadth @sustrans

  2. Xenia Kingsley

    RT @leftfootfwd: Carbon Plan shows a disappointing shortfall in policy breadth writes @EleanorBesley

  3. Light Foot LED

    RT @leftfootfwd: Carbon Plan shows a disappointing shortfall in policy breadth writes @EleanorBesley

  4. Eleanor Besley

    Carbon Plan shows disappointing shortfall in policy breadth @transportgovuk @jossgarman @danielvockins

  5. Look Left – Cameron calls on EU to show "political will" to deal with Gaddafi | Left Foot Forward

    […] Left Foot Forward, Eleanor Besley wrote this morning about the government’s Carbon Plan, which she said showed a […]

  6. Emma Page

    @Number10gov @nick_clegg @ChrisHuhne Carbon Plan shows disappointing shortfall in policy breadth #sustrans

  7. Chris

    It looks as if Huhne and Cameron’s plans interest no one – not one comment! This is surprising given the total madness of the plans, which essentially take money from working people and give it to rich people via feed in tariffs for their solar panels and windmills. Instead, Eleanor, you have decided to look at transport and quote a percentage. Let me quote a percentage – 85%. That’s the percentage of passenger kilometres by car. All the rest only account for 15%.

    The problem which no ones thinks about is the geographical distribution of journeys – especially politicians. They and the rest of the home counties mob only think about the South East. Outside the South East and the big cities, a car is the only choice and that’s why there is a big bias towards cars. We, who don’t live in the home counties, don’t have a choice and our average journeys are much longer. Try telling an old person (over 65? of which there is a hugely increasing number) living in Scotland they must use a bike to go 10 miles to the shop!

    As for electric cars, have you seen what they are doing to China to make these things? They are wrecking the joint, scaring the land, polluting the water, poisoning the food. And what for? Electric cars only move CO2 emission from exhausts to power stations. And have you thought about how we charge all these cars when Huhne and Cameron have doomed us to blackouts in five or six years because of their stupidity? If we all drove an electric car it would require 40% of the capacity of the grid to charge them. And how do the 60% of people who park on the street or live in flats charge their cars? How do we change over 32 million cars to all electric when the world production capacity is presently 300,000 – it would take 100 years. How does a working man afford an electric car when they cost £30,000? And don’t say buy second hand because the batteries cost £8,000 and pack up after eight years.

    Perhaps you’re right, unless you are rich and getting richer from the working man’s subisdy of your solar and wind investments, you’d better polish your bike.

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