The latest government figures show that transport was the largest source of climate changing greenhouse gases in the UK. Transport, mostly passenger cars, makes up more than a third of total emissions.
To coincide with the publication of these figures, Friends of the Earth, along with researchers at think-tank Transport for Quality of Life have released new research: Transforming public transport: Regulation, spending and free buses for the under 30s. The findings show that for climate change reasons at least a 20 per cent reduction in car journeys is necessary, even with a faster switch to electrics cars and a more rapid decarbonisation of the electricity grid. This reduction requires a radical re-imagining of transport which would also realise the numerous other benefits of traffic reduction, for example to public health.
Mike Childs, Head of Research at Friends of the Earth, said: “It’s an idea whose time has well and truly arrived. Free bus travel for the under 30’s at first, before widening the scheme, would make for more livable cities and cut damaging greenhouse gas emissions.”
“Dozens of cities across the world offer some form of free public transport. It would cost around £3 billion a year but this is a fraction of the money spent on roads. Three times more journeys are by bus than train and they are the main means of transport for the car-less quarter of the population. What we are seeing instead is bus fares rising 75 per cent over the last 15 years, and over 3,300 services reduced or removed since 2010 in England and Wales.”
Lynn Sloman, Director of Transport for Quality of Life, said: “Transport policy should be evidence-led. Our research makes it clear that UK transport policy requires a complete overhaul to enable us to comply with greenhouse gas reduction needs and other pressing public health concerns such as air quality and obesity. We can learn much from other countries across the world, particularly on how to manage and deliver a well-regulated high-quality public transport service.”
Mike Childs concluded: “There is no reason why this can’t be the year that national and local government transforms transport and travel. We need to do this to get to grips with a changing climate and meet our Paris Agreement commitments to limit global temperature rises, as a bonus it will make us healthier and happier too.”
Friends of the Earth wants to see a transport system based around people and increased walking and cycling, not continued spending on cars and roads. Along with Transport for Quality of Life, the campaigners are calling for the UK to follow the lead of over 100 cities and towns across the world who are reducing air pollution and meeting the challenge of climate change by making bus travel free. It will be necessary to regulate buses to make this work.
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About the authors:
Veteran Friends of the Earth campaigner, thinker and doer; walking in footsteps of campaigners over hundreds of years. “After 25+ years at Friends of the Earth now I am 1 of 3 Strategic Project Leaders at Friends of the Earth, each charged with leading and managing a strategic project of organisational significance. My focus for the year is developing the organisational culture and ways of working to deliver our new strategy. I also spend 1 dpw on ‘thought-leadership’, leading our Big Ideas Project (www.foe.co.uk/bigideas) which identified the big changes needed to deliver well-being to people and the planet. We looked at topics from the future of cities, nurturing nature’s bounty, women’s empowerment, innovation, education and the history of change
* Friends of the Earth https://friendsoftheearth.uk/
Lynn Sloman, Director, Transport for Quality of Life
Lynn is a nationally-recognised expert in design and evaluation of sustainable transport investment programmes. She has led a number of ground-breaking evaluation studies, including evaluation of the Department for Transport’s Local Sustainable Transport Fund, Cycle City Ambition programme and Sustainable Travel Towns programme. She is a board member of Transport for London and a trustee of the Foundation for Integrated Transport. She was a member of the Department for Transport Expert Panel that advised ministers on the £600 million Local Sustainable Transport Fund. As a board member of Cycling England between 2001 and 2011, she helped set up the Cycling Demonstration Towns / Cycling City and Towns programme, and chaired a cross-government group to evaluate its effect. She was member and then Vice-Chair of the Commission for Integrated Transport between 2005 and 2010, and Chair of the Campaign for Better Transport between 2014 and 2016.
* Transport for Quality of Life https://www.transportforqualityoflife.com/
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About the editor:
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Bio: Educated as a development economist, Francis Eric Knight Britton is an American political scientist, teacher and sustainability activist who has taught and worked on missions and advisory assignments on all continents. Professor of Sustainable Development, Economy and Democracy at the Institut Supérieur de Gestion (Paris, New York), he is MD of EcoPlan Association, an independent non-profit advisory network providing strategic counsel for government and business on policy and decision issues involving complex systems, social-technical change, incomplete information, civil society and sustainable development. Founding editor of World Streets: Climate/Action/Plan 2019-2020. In the autumn of 2018 he committed his remaining life work to the challenges of countering climate change from GHG emissions from the mobility sector. (For more see Britton online at https://goo.gl/9CJXTh, @ericbritton. email at firstname.lastname@example.org) and Skype: newmobility.)
About World Streets 2020 Climate/Action/Plan: