Encouraging walking and cycling must be a major climate goal, says STA

The UK’s leading sustainable transport groups will be making an appeal to world leaders to recognise that technology alone cannot reduce transport emissions. The appeal will be made during the COP26 event in Glasgow.

The groups will say that reducing traffic and encouraging walking, cycling and shared mobility must be a major climate goal.

As the focus of COP26 turns to transport, the Sustainable Transport Alliance (STA) is highlighting that only focussing on electric vehicles (EVs) would mean ignoring their social and environmental drawbacks.

The Sustainable Transport Alliance (STA) is made up of Bus Users, Campaign for Better Transport, Community Rail Network, Community Transport Association, Collaborative Mobility UK (CoMoUK), Living Streets, London Cycling Campaign, and Sustrans.

Jools Townsend, chair of the Sustainable Transport Alliance (STA), and chief executive of Community Rail Network, said: “The inspiring campaigners and change-makers from around the world who have been addressing COP26 have been underlining how we must put people, communities and justice at the forefront in tackling the climate crisis, and this very much applies to transport. The evidence is clear that we cannot put all our faith in electric cars – we need a more fundamental shift in how we get around, and we have much to gain from this.

“By focusing on a shift towards public, shared and community transport, walking and cycling, we can create healthier, happier communities and more equal access to opportunity, without adding to emissions and environmental problems through the manufacture of millions more cars.

“We’re proud to be coming together with our NGO partners at COP26 to showcase action and amplify voices within communities across the UK that are working towards a greener, better, more inclusive transport future.”

Richard Dilks, chief executive of CoMoUK, said: “The world is watching Glasgow and hoping that countries can come together to tackle the climate emergency. While international action is vital, local communities can also make a difference in creating a cleaner, greener transport future. By showcasing examples of how to shift people away from private car use, COP26 is an opportunity for Scotland and the UK to demonstrate the role of grassroots action as part of local, national and international transport decarbonisation.”

Xavier Brice, Sustrans chief executive, said: “Cars dominate the UK’s CO2 emissions and too much of our public space, resulting in congested neighbourhoods, uninviting public space and poor air quality, ultimately limiting our freedom to move around our local areas. Electric vehicles are increasingly seen as a silver bullet to tackling carbon emissions from transport.

“They are clearly part of the solution but they won’t get us to Net Zero quickly enough and risk embedding all the downsides of car dependency. We know that most journeys of less than two miles are still being done by car, and so COP26 is an opportunity to focus on the importance of public transport and cycling and walking to deliver carbon neutral journeys now. Liberating people from the need to drive in order to build healthier and happier communities for a shared sustainable future for everyone is not only essential but also entirely possible.”

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