Column by Molly Scott Cato, Green MEP for the South West and parliamentary candidate for Stroud.
Transport is the most problematic sector when it comes to reducing our carbon emissions. Without a radical change of direction we will fail to tackle the climate emergency.
More emissions now come from transport than any other sector. It accounted for a full third of emissions in 2018 and is little changed overall since 1990, whereas emissions from power stations have declined by 68% over the same time period.
The Green Party recently proposed some transport measures to help us turn the corner on the sector’s emissions.
Firstly, we would scrap HS2 and invest the £80+ billion being wasted on this vanity project into regional rail services instead.
Having been starved of rail funding for years, our region could lay fair claim to a substantive chunk of this money. In recent years London has witnessed 10 times the expenditure on its railway infrastructure as the South West region has. A strong candidate for investment would be the reopening of the railway station at Bristol Road, Stonehouse. This would enable Bristol commuters the chance to travel directly into and out of the city without changing trains. Such a move would cut carbon emissions by offering a quick and convenient alternative
Reopening this station could also prove good for jobs. With the station just a couple of minutes from the Kennet & Avon canal, it would open up potential for new tourism opportunities.
The other measure Green announced was free buses, paid for by switching £26 billion earmarked for new roads, together with vehicle excise duty, into paying for new, improved and free bus services.
Imagine being able to step aboard a free bus from Stroud to Bristol Road station and then travelling direct to Bristol by train. In this country such ideas, which not only tackle transport emissions but also improve
the lives of local residents, are seen as visionary. In many parts of Europe they are simply viewed as common sense.