Transport policy on fast track to environmental disaster

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From: Chris Broome, Sheffield Campaign Against Climate Change, Hackthorn Road, Sheffield.

THE Yorkshire Post included three pieces that together built up a picture of how we look at the future of air travel and of climate change, in general (The Yorkshire Post, July 15).

An article describes how two leading environmental groups claim a new runway at Heathrow or Gatwick would mean capacity being cut at Northern airports, to meet climate targets. A leader column, “Sins of emissions”, claims that “pragmatic observers” would advocate changing “the present draconian emissions targets so they are less of a straitjacket on Britain’s economic growth”. Then, a short paragraph elsewhere tells us that the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) warn that we not on course to meet our Carbon Budgets.

As a society, we have still to come to terms with how rapidly we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The upshot is we are currently heading for a future characterised by continual extreme weather events that will disrupt our economy and our lives. It would not be fairly similar to today but with more gadgets and foreign holidays. It would be a good time to focus more on building strong local communities than endlessly increasing air travel.

From: James Finlayson, City Car Club, Leeds.

IT was recently announced that Leeds is one of three cities in the UK which will fail to meet EU standards for nitrogen dioxide. Why does this matter? Well, nitrogen dioxide is nasty stuff – it causes 400,000 premature deaths across the EU, plus respiratory and cardiovascular problems and damages the environment.

One of the prime culprits are diesel cars, which have rocketed in popularity over the past decade thanks to their fuel efficiency and a favourable tax regime designed to reward vehicles with low carbon emissions.

The Government is insisting it is doing its bit to turn things round – investing in ultra-low emission vehicles and promoting sustainable and green transport initiatives, including car clubs.

Whether or not they are truly committed to improving air quality in our region is a matter for debate, but that doesn’t stop those of us who live and work in Leeds taking action today. Walking, cycling, taking public transport or switching to ultra-low emission cars (like those used by City Car Club) are all practical measures that will help reduce nitrogen oxide levels.