Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Why Transport Minister Alistair Darling loves nuclear power

Transport Minister Alistair Darling would love to see a new generation of nuclear power stations - that's no secret. But why?

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) is examining transport's carbon emissions, it announced in January.

Carbon emissions from transport are expected to grow by about 10 per cent from 2000 levels by 2010, while emissions from other sectors are due to fall.

On 29 March it took evidence from the motor industry and the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership, led by Graham Smith, also Managing Director, Toyota GB - sounds like a conflict of interest to me - and the Energy Saving Trust.

Colin Challen, the MP behind the TEQs bill, observed: "Every morning I walk past Alistair Darling's office in Marshall Street under which there is a BMW showroom. Every car in the window is F rated (the worst possible), so where is the evidence that the motor manufacturers are actually trying to improve choice even in what I dare say is an upmarket showroom? There is no choice there at all."

Greg Archer, Director, LowCVP, said: "The Partnership has felt for some time that the absence of a sectoral target for transport emissions and for road transport emissions [from the Dept of Transport] specifically means that there has not been the focus on controlling transport emissions generally within the Department for Transport because there is not an overall target that the Department is trying to achieve. We recognise that they share in the PSA 20 per target but there is no clarity as to what proportion of that overall burden the Department for Transport is actually taking.

"It was one of the questions that was posed in the Climate Change programme. Two hundred pages of Climate Change programme later there is not one mention of sectoral targets or even why the Government has decided not to go ahead with them."

Ie, they're doing sod all.

He continued:

"Personally I think that if we had a clear target for road transport then the Department for Transport would have to look and say, "Okay, what are we going to achieve through the shift to low carbon vehicles? What are bio fuels going to deliver us? What do we need to do by way of developing the rail infrastructure, encouraging walking and cycling and all the other low carbon options so we can get to our carbon target?" Without that clarity and that directional policy I am afraid the Department for Transport will never put together the package of measures which are needed to address this issue."

Graham Smith said: "With an overall target... the possibility of more integration of different aspects of the responsibility of the Department of Transport would come into play and we believe that would be helpful."

The Government is going backwards on incentives to decarbonise transport. When the PowerShift grant was removed in 2005 there was a 50 per cent reduction in sales of the Honda Civic IMA from 2004 to 2005. The Budget's changes in VED will make no difference too consumer choice - it is tinkering.

Darling continues to want to build roads and air terminals. He even turned down a proposal for a public information campaign which included a Cleaner Vehicle League Table.

No wonder he wants nuclear power - he can then carry on business as usual and pretend not to worry about carbon emissions.

One solution for transport carbon emissions

If you had a certificate trading system which required each manufacturer to have certificates allocated to every car that they sold based on the carbon of that vehicle they would then have to trade their certificate and, if they produced a number of high carbon cars, there would be a negative balance and they would have to purchase green credits.

At the other side of the scale you could have a company selling a number of greener cars, hybrid cars and they would generate a lot of green certificates and they would be able to sell those certificates and generate a profit based on the number of greener cars which they were selling.

this is mooted by amongst others Richard Tarboton, Head of Business Unit, Transport, the Energy Saving Trust.

By the way, look out for the EAC's report Keeping the lights on: Nuclear, Renewables and Climate Change to be published as the Committee’s Sixth Report, HC 584, at 00.01 on Sunday 16 April 2006... copies have been sent out now so will be considered as part of the Energy Review.

The EAC is usually highly critical of the government's environmental record.

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