Charles Clarke

All attempts to restrict the extent to which people travel will be self-defeating and unsuccessful. The urge to travel is just too strong.

That means that we have to create a society where it is possible to travel without consuming carbon. So for me low- or no-carbon travel has to be the priority.

For short journeys, for example from home to school and work, that means promoting walking, cycling and use of public transport. An enormous amount remains to be done but progress can be made fairly easily.

Many public service and commercial vehicles, which make routine journeys where high performance is less essential, could be shifted, possibly by statute, to electrical rather than petrol or diesel power. This could cover commuter buses, delivery vans, recycling lorries, agricultural and construction equipment etc. The fact that these vehicles regularly return to their depot means that recharging with electricity is easier.

For journeys up to about 600 kilometres, it means encouraging trains, in place of cars and planes. This requires major capital investment, for example in High-Speed Trains, road-charging, for example motorway tolls, and increasing the relative cost of plane travel by ending plane exemptions from some forms of taxation. This is a hard political bullet to bite but it must be done.

For very long journeys it requires revolutionary technological change, where highly focused and subsidised research and development is needed. This mainly means finding new low-carbon means of powering world shipping, which consumes more carbon than is generally recognised, and achieving significant changes in fuel and aerodynamic design for long-distance flights.

I am confident that such a programme is feasible and that real governmental and inter-governmental focus on this would reduce carbon use more substantially and more quickly than most people realise.

Charles Clarke, MP

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