Thursday, 2 August 2007

Government policy on climate change lacking

The Commons Environmental Audit Committee has urged the government to take more effective and co-ordinated action to reduce the emissions that are causing climate change. The cross-party group of MP’s on the committee believe that government policy is becoming incoherent and the measures put in place do not go far enough.

The government has set the UK a target of reducing carbon emissions by 60% of 1990 levels by 2050 in a legally binding plan under the draft Climate Change Bill. The government believes that this will be sufficient to keep global temperature rises to 2 degrees Celsius. The most recent research however suggests that this level of reduction will not be enough to achieve the 2 degree Celsius rise the government wants. Even if this was enough, the UK’s carbon emissions have risen rather than fallen, making it highly unlikely that the government’s own target will be met.

The committee points to series of failings on the government’s policy towards meeting not just its own targets, but also its Kyoto commitments. The problem is, people are not prepared to take the necessary steps as individuals, and the government is wary of introducing regulation for fear of becoming even less popular. It is a strange situation really, most people agree that something needs to be done to stop the rise in global temperature, but no one really wants to do much about it, other than easy token gestures.
[Via The Independent]

Website helps you to reduce CO2 from your car

There are a few simple steps you can take to reduce the environmental impact of driving your car. By choosing the right car and driving the right way you can cut down CO2 emissions.

The Department of Transport in association with What Car? magazine has launched a website with details of the most fuel efficient cars in all classes. The website lets you input the type of car you are interested in and it gives you details of the top 10 in the class for fuel efficiency and emissions. The car categories are: Supermini, Small family, Family, Estate, MPV, Compact Executive, Executive, Coupe, Open-top, Hot hatch, Compact 4x4, Large 4x4, Luxury and Performance Car. These categories were developed by What Car? magazine, to cover the majority of cars people will buy.

According to the website, if drivers follow their Smarter Driving Tips, CO2 emissions from their existing cars could reduced by 8%, and even better, if drivers buying new cars bought the most fuel efficient in its class, it could lead to a 24% reduction in CO2 emissions from new cars. It just goes to show that by taking very simple steps we can reduce our individual carbon footprint.

Water transport promises greener way

Using coastal waters and the canal system to transport goods around the country can produce 80% less carbon emissions compared to road haulage according to a report by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs select committee. That would be a pretty massive reduction in carbon emissions if all UK companies would switch form road to water freight. Unfortunately, this is unlikely to happen because of the higher costs involved.

Despite British Waterways promising to double the freight carried on water by 2010, the amount carried by water has dropped from 4.3m tonnes to 3.4m tonnes between 2000 and 2005. The British Waterways agency believes this is because it is uneconomic to transport goods by water in comparison.

The obvious answer would be for the government to increase the tax on road haulage to make water haulage more attractive. The government increases taxes all the time, so this would fit in nicely with their tax ethos. The other way to get more freight on Britain’s waterways is to give subsidies or tax breaks to firms using water haulage.

If the government is at all serious about reducing the UK’s carbon emission levels, this would be a very easy option to take. It may mean a slight increase in prices, or slightly less profit for the companies, but compared to the alternatives, this is a small price to pay.

[Via The Guardian]

Velib cycle scheme hits Paris

Paris is trying out a cycling scheme first developed in Lyon, which looks like a good way to reduce city centre congestion and therefore pollution and carbon emissions. The Velib scheme has 10,600 bikes located at 750 docking stations, with plans to increase this to 20,600 by the end of the year. The docking stations are located at 300m intervals, mainly at transport hubs and popular sites. Commuters can pick up a bike at a docking station and return it to any other docking station. The first half hour of use is free, but after that there is an incremental charge for every additional half hour of use. Users of the scheme can book a Velib pass online or at stations, costing a mere €1 for a day pass, €5 for a weekly and €29 for a yearly, this is an inexpensive and environmentally friendly way of getting to and from work.

The Velib scheme is part of Paris’s mayor Bertrand DelanoĆ«’s aim to reduce car traffic by 40% by 2020. The mayor has already had an extra 200km of cycle paths built, and plans to double the number of cycle lanes by 2008. This popular scheme is a good model for other towns and cities to follow. Creating more cycle paths makes cycling safer and more attractive to commuters. This is a simple way to reduce carbon emissions and get people fitter and healthier at the same time.

[Via International Herald Tribune]