Wednesday, October 31, 2007

What is sustainable about this transport policy?

The sustainability of transport in the UK comes down to one thing - can we all maintain or improve our quality of life and tackle climate change in the way we move from A to B (or, indeed, decide not to).

The Government has just laid out its ideas on this in Towards a Sustainable Transport System: Supporting Economic Growth in a Low Carbon World. This is a consultation document that will lead to a new Transport White Paper in a year's time.

It is a brave document in that it dares to question whether new major infrastructure projects are a good idea, but still pledges support for airport expansion in southeast England.

It also wants to speed up motorways and rail links between London, Birmingham and Manchester.

Its attempt to be "sustainable" rests partly on a pledge to ensure that "every extra tonne of carbon from aviation growth above 2005 levels would need to be matched by a tonne saved somewhere else - a saving over and above existing targets".

This is code for emissions trading, and means we can carry on as usual, while investing in renewable energy in developing countries, but this does nothing to reduce the overall level of GHG entering the atmosphere.

We are back with Catch-23.

Basically economic growth and sustainability are incompatible. It's like trying to get cats and mice to get on with each other.

So in short, the Low Carbon Kid says there's not much sustainable about such a transport policy.

He will write another time about how saving money by energy efficiency doesn't result in saving nearly as much energy as you'd thnk because the money saved is usually spent on other things that also use energy.

Catch-23 again.

Meanwhle, the logic from all of this leads to the conclusion that only one thing will reduce our overall energy use: personal carbon trading with a yearly reduced overall cap.

This will be because there will no possible way to use more energy. No choice. Nada.

Like the spoilt child, we should be banned from playing with our dangerous toys, and learn to do more with less.

It's the only way.

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