Immediate action needed on transport emissions
23 November 2005
Bold policy decisions, not just tough regulations, are needed to reverse environmental damage and address climate change, the chief executive of the Environment Agency told regulators and environmentalists in London, UK.
Barbara Young, speaking at an EA conference, said tough targets and new regulations put the UK among world leaders for tackling CO2 emissions. She urged the government to maintain that position. 'We are all depending on the prime minister,' she said, ahead of next week's United Nations conference on climate change in Montreal, Canada. If the UK falters from its strong position it will discourage those states in the US that are tackling climate change and carbon emissions in spite of federal refusal to sign the Kyoto protocol.
Young said economic incentives are needed alongside tough regulation to achieve emissions cuts, particularly in transport. More UK cities need to follow London's example and introduce congestion charges, she said. Young called for a comprehensive programme to tackle transport emissions, including incentives for drivers of hybrid cars and penalties for drivers of 'gas guzzlers'.
Tony Juniper, executive director of environmental group Friends of the Earth agreed that the UK government must act now to cut rising transport emissions from cars and aviation. Climate change is immediate, he said. 'The real challenge is being able to communicate a sense of urgency while being positive about what can be done,' he said. Juniper recommends a rise in vehicle excise duty.'Environmental challenge is fundamental to economic prosperity and social justice,' said Young. 'The costs of reducing emissions are often overestimated and the costs of not cutting emissions are often underestimated,' she said. Katharine Sanderson