The Carbon Impacts of Road Building

“There are no future scenarios in which the U.K. can meet its carbon reduction milestones over the next two decades whilst car traffic is allowed to grow even if electric vehicle uptake is massively accelerated,” say transport academics. Carlton Reid, Twitter 14 July 2021

In an article in New Scientist,  Professor Kevin Anderson of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in Manchester stated “Transport can’t be decarbonised in time to meet the 1.5°C warming target outlined by the UN climate science panel last year. There is a very clear message – if we are serious about Paris we have to reduce the demand for transport too.”

Leading academics publish 6 ways that government can make a serious shift to net zero transport, no. 1 being we need to enable a future where people can use their cars less, not more

A report for the Centre for Research in Energy Demand Solutions (CREDS) concluded that “a reduction in CO2 emissions from transport by technology, without changing demand, [does] not appear to be based on a realistic assessment of what is practically possible”

A briefing by Transport for Quality of Life for Friends of the Earth states “Even if there is an early transition to an all-electric vehicle fleet, and effective action to reduce emissions from conventional vehicles, it is highly likely we will also need to reduce miles driven by all vehicles… the necessary mileage reduction could be as low as 20% or as high as 60%.”

Click to access 1%20More%20than%20electric%20cars%20briefing.pdf

The Government have released their Transport Decarbonisation Plan, July 2021. It is a critically missed opportunity. Where is the massive investment in active travel (£2billion is not enough)? Where is the investment in public transport (the historic underinvestment continues)? Where is the plan to connect active travel and public transport to drive down overall car journeys taken? Where is the road pricing? Where is the frequent flyer levy?

Transport and Environment Statistics: 2021 Annual Report.

TAN fight to end the RIS2, 3 and 4 road building programmes

45 of the 50 new road schemes will add ‘32 million tonnes of extra carbon emissions, whilst construction adds another 4 million tonnes’. More roads = huge increases in carbon emissions. 

The carbon impact of the national roads programme was investigated here and found that the programme would add around 20 million tonnes of additional carbon emissions before the end of 2032 (the end of the fifth carbon budget)

Electric vehicles may not be the climate answer after all…Financial Times

The decarbonisation crunch is here… cancel the RIS2 road building programme and the Silvertown Tunnel. The Guardian, June 2021

82% of new cars are bought using PCP loans. After three years the car is then traded in for a new leased car. Short term profit for lenders is driving a trend for always upgrading cars. 

Car sales are falling due to Covid – so why are we building more roads and still seeing car manufacturing as a cornerstone of the economy? Car Plant Shutdowns, The Guardian April 2020

1/3 of microplastics in the ocean are from car tyres. EVs are not the answer. SOENECH report, April 2021.

Our position on HS2

While public transport and trains are much lower in carbon emissions than road transport and shifting journeys from private vehicles to public transport is positive, HS2’s negative environmental impacts (both in carbon emissions and ecological destruction) outweigh any carbon saving benefits it may bring in the future. We urgently need to reduce road transport emissions before 2030, HS2 will not help that. 

The treatment of people who have lost their homes, land and community places along the HS2 route and the treatment of HS2 protest groups by HS2 Ltd and their hired security is inhumane. We also oppose HS2 for the distress and harm the project has inflicted on people. 

The UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world. HS2 is accelerating wildlife decline and ecosystem collapse. HS2 provides too little too late for decarbonisation and the ecological destruction caused by HS2 is unacceptable.

The cost of HS2 has escalated to close to £200 billion. This money would be better spent on opening old railway lines, making public transport free, improving bus service routes, electrifying all buses and trains, building active travel infrastructure or building railway links that communities genuinely need that are able to avoid going through woodlands and important wildlife sites.