A green transport system
An ambitious transport strategy to solve the Climate Crisis
We all know that the way we move around our communities is a vital factor in whether we have a healthy & sustainable life; that to be fulfilled in life, a connection with family, friends & community is essential. Our current transport system not only doesn’t facilitate that connection, but actively prevents it for many in our society. That’s why we need a new transport strategy that is ambitious enough to change the way we interact with our surroundings.
We are wedded to our cars, that is no secret. In 2019, 61% of all trips were taken by car and this accounted for 77% of distance travelled (Department for Transport, 2019). This is a travesty for many different reasons, not least the climate impact. In 2017, 118 Mt CO2 equivalent was released into the atmosphere by car journeys, which represented 21% of total UK emissions and is a sector that is bucking the trend of decreasing emissions since 1990, which have decreased by 32% in the whole economy but increased by 6% in road transport (Office for National Statistics, 2019).
It is clear that this will not be solved by continuing on the same path of roadbuilding and simple improvements in “fuel efficiency”, as fossil fuels are a fundamentally inefficient way of powering our society in the long-term. We need to produce a modal shift in how we move, away from cars and towards alternatives that are healthier, safer and better for the planet and our wages. The way to do that is not through simply encouraging the shift, it’s about creating the infrastructure necessary to push people out of their cars and into other forms of travel like trains, cycling and walking.
This transition needs to be equitable and accessible to all, not just those in cities or those with money. To create society-wide change, we need to ensure that all in our society can access it easily, safely and affordably. As the saying goes, a society is only as good as how it treats its poorest members and this holds true for so many issues surrounding transport; a fair transition towards a fairer society and better future for us all.
My own political party, the Green Party of England and Wales, has policies that are forward-thinking on this issue and we believe that they should be adopted by the national government. One of the policies I am most proud of is TR011(c), which adopts a hierarchy of transport modes based on vulnerability and sustainability and emphasises demand management – that travel is not necessary for all trips and to encourage initiatives such as telecommuting and ensuring that employment is available within walking distance from home.
We must of course remember that we cannot leave rural and semi-rural areas out of this transition for social & environmental justice. We must ensure that we provide workable solutions to rural areas that make the most environmentally friendly individual choice the easiest choice through system change. I believe that Demand Responsive Transit (DRT) is a great way to achieve that by having the convenience of a car without the environmental damage or significant financial cost.
We can only achieve this better future if we elect people that believe that a better future is possible and are willing to fight for it. These people exist across many political parties and movements, but it must be a priority that we speak to them about the future of transport we want to see at election time.
Department for Transport, 2019. 2019 National Travel Survey. London: Department for Transport, p.2.
Office for National Statistics, 2019. Road Transport and Air Emissions. Newport: Office for National Statistics.
About the author
Dylan is the Green candidate for Fulwood and Co-Chair for LGBTIQA+ Greens. They campaign on equalities issues and the environment, being particularly interested in planning.