We’re on the right track on pollution but must do more
Aheadline that caught my attention was: “UK bans petrol and diesel cars”. Unfortunately, it was good business but not great journalism, because it was a little vera citychallenged. It wasn’t untrue, but didn’t tell the full truth, which is the UK Government wants to halt the sales of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.
Well. Wow. However, are we going to make such fundamental changes to our lifestyle with only 23 years to cram them in?
This plan was announced by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, a man so myopic that he tried, unsuccessfully, to limit prison inmates’ access to books while he was justice secretary.
While it’s laudable – if slightly surprising – that a Conservative government is setting an environmental target at all, it’s hard to justify failing to act now.
Perhaps pollution is affecting minds in central London, where the mayor, Sadiq Khan, last week led calls for immediate action as he spoke of people’s “suffering” due to air quality.
Scotland has the same problem on a smaller scale, but it’s a problem nonetheless. In January, Friends of the Earth Scotland said its data showed the number of “pollution zones” in Scotland had increased by five to 38.
The information is alarming, publicly available and not in any way limited to the Central Belt. The list includes Atholl Street in Perth (where a narrow road and high buildings create a “street canyon” that I recall writing about in the ’90s), the Seagate in Dundee and, for the first time, Crieff High Street. Yes, Crieff has a pollution problem. Astonishing. The answer, of course, is to quit the car, which isn’t easy. Frankly, I don’t want to. I own two of the things and dislike them, but we are humans and can be a little short-term in our thinking.
To take the long-term view, we have to think individually and collectively.
So I’m looking into some commuting by bike and pricing hybrid cars, but we look to governments for strong leadership on environmental issues like this.
The UK Government needs to set more ambitious goals. It couldn’t hurt to have a word with the Americans, too.
It’s hard to justify failing to act now