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          Sustrans Press Release 3rd May 2007

    The transport elephant

   in the climate change room

 On the eve of the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on
 Climate Change (IPCC) Sustrans, the UK's leading sustainable transport
 charity, sets out its recommendations for low carbon travel. But, says
 the charity, the techno fixes so beloved of government, and the IPCC
 itself, are not the whole solution. What is also needed, and urgently,
 is a shift in behaviour change, and real commitment from the new
 Assembly government, to meet the IPCC's recommendations and deliver the
 level of reduction in CO2 emissions needed to avoid rising climatic
 temperatures.

 Fossil-fuel generated CO2 emissions from transport are steadily growing
 and this sector is now contributing more CO2 than any other in the
 UK(1). Sustrans believes that the UK government should commit to keeping
 CO2 emissions within 450 parts per million, since this offers the best
 chance of keeping the average increase in temperatures worldwide within
 2 degrees Celsius. Transforming the travel culture is critical to
 achieving this, but transport policy continues to focus on enabling
 people to travel further faster, with tackling congestion rather than
 carbon emissions a key priority.

 Sustrans' own work shows that bringing about travel behaviour change can
 be quick and, if properly conducted, uncontroversial and economical,
 particularly for short journeys normally made by car. And, where people
 are choosing to walk or cycle, there are accompanying health benefits
 with a reduced burden on the NHS.

 Sustrans' behaviour change work graphically illustrates the potential
 for change, its research on typical towns showing that around half of
 all car trips could be replaced by walking, cycling and public transport
 with no changes made to existing services and conditions. And there is a
 public demand, around 90 per cent of people favour measures to improve
 conditions for walking, cycling and public transport even when this
 disadvantages car users(2).

 Sustrans calls on governments to do much more to fund travel behaviour
 change programmes that, the evidence shows, reduce car use by at least
 10 per cent(3) In addition government has a real role to play in
 introducing stronger fiscal measures such as increasing taxes which is
 known to be effective in dampening demand, for example, increasing
 Vehicle Excise Duty on less efficient vehicles. Another solution is road
 user charging focused on reducing car use rather than congestion. The
 revenue generated should be ploughed back into sustainable transport
 alternatives.

 The IPCC report will focus on technological solutions to transport, such
 as increased use of hydrogen fuel cells and biofuels. But serious doubts
 exist about the ability of the biofuel industry to meet the demands of a
 growing transport sector. Based on current predictions the biofuel
 industry's hunger for land and water resources would quickly outstrip
 supply, one study predicts the demand in the EU alone would need one
 quarter of the EU's arable land to be turned over to biofuel production.


 While the car industry has started to address the issue of fuel
 efficiency current voluntary agreements with car manufacturers are
 running behind schedule with cars becoming less, not more, fuel
 efficient. Nearly a century ago Ford's model T achieved 25 miles to the
 gallon, today many Ford cars and trucks achieve much less than this. In
 short Sustrans believes there is no technology available today that will
 enable the transport sector to make sufficient cuts in emissions to
 achieve the UK's own target of a 60% reduction by 2050, and that there
 needs to be much greater focus on bringing about quick behaviour change.

 Sustrans' recommendations are published in its Low Carbon Travel
 information sheet. The sheet is introduced by Professor Sir John Lawton,
 Chairman of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, who
 highlights the urgency for action: "The evidence is now stronger than
 ever that technological improvements alone will not be enough to deliver
 the scale of emissions reductions we need to see from the transport
 sector. Behaviour change is vital, that means all of us traveling less
 far, in more energy efficient ways and at slower speeds. Transport and
 planning must be better integrated so that people can travel shorter
 distances to work, shops and schools and resources should be switched
 from road building to creating conditions that will encourage people to
 walk, cycle and use public transport much more.
 "Doing nothing is no longer an option, in 1994 the Royal Commission
 called for environmentally sustainable transport - if my successors are
 making similar calls in another 13 years time then it will be too late".


 Lee Waters, Sustrans' National Director for Wales, said: "This latest
 IPCC report is crucial because it suggests ways of mitigating climate
 change by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. It will inform the next
 stage of the Kyoto protocol process, so if it focuses only on magic
 bullets that have yet to be proven effective rather than on bringing
 about behaviour change which we already know works, and works quickly,
 it will be a wasted opportunity. In Wales it is time to have a proper
 debate about the issues rather than pretend we can have unfettered
 growth in mobility. The evidence suggests that when people are well
 informed about the impact of their travel choices, they are very willing
 to change their behaviour to more sustainable ways of getting around.
 We urge the new Assembly government to show it is serious about climate
 change and tackle the issue head on. We can no longer afford to avoid
 this reality."