Environmentally Friendly Vehicles?
As part of the UK's Presidency of the G8 Nations and the EU, the Department for Transport is hosting a conference in Birmingham on 10th and 11th November concerning best practice on the development and commercialisation of clean, fuel-efficient vehicles.
They Must Mean Cars.
This event has publicity material attached to it that claims "with the role that vehicle technologies can play in reducing emissions and combating climate change, this conference will be key to one of Prime Minister Tony Blair's main objectives for the United Kingdom's G8 Presidency." As the ABD has recently pointed out (1), short of taking charge of cosmic forces, no Prime Minister or their Transport Department minions enjoy the remotest prospect of combating climate change, which is the result of natural and insuperable forcings linked to solar activity, the planet's rotation and orbit, cosmic ray flux, impacts and tectonic events. Gordon Brown might as well tax the Sun for shining.
Is spite of seemingly fine words from the Government on vehicle emissions, it is currently championing some of the most grossly polluting vehicles on the roads — buses with large diesel engines — while penalising car use with taxes and restrictions. A Transport Research Laboratory investigation into a possible Low Emission Zone for London concluded "restrictions on cars on air quality grounds have been shown not to be warranted" (2). Meanwhile Dr Hitomi Suzuki's research at Kyoto University has revealed that diesel engined buses emit the most carcinogenic chemical known to science, 3-nitrobenzanthrone (3) with their engines under load, such as when pulling away from every High Street bus stop.
Dr Suzuki comments "I personally believe that the recent increase in the number of lung cancer patients [in urban areas] is closely linked with respirable carcinogens such as 3-NBA."
Cars, in contrast, are already very clean and green, with emissions decreasing markedly over the last 25 years. A study by Professor Roger Kemp at Lancaster University (4) confirmed recently that cars are environmentally friendly compared to public transport. Prof Kemp's comparisons between cars and inter-city trains led Roger Ford, Editor of 'Modern Railways' magazine to write "At present a family of four going by car is about as environmentally friendly as you can get." This result is in agreement with previous findings from Automotive Advisers and Associates of Hilden, showing that cars are more energy efficient than public transport.
Ben Adams, ABD Environment Spokesman, said
"This conference would be better off giving its attention to the problems of particulate pollution and carcinogenic emissions from buses, yet the government is hung up on futile but fertile carbon taxes. Private transport, in the form of cars and powered two wheelers, is the eco-good-guy, but ideological bias involving a misguided love affair with public transport prevents the Government from taking really effective steps to clean up our air even more.
Urban centres with growing bus-isation, such as Oxford, are finding their outdoor air is filthy. Demonising a harmless, naturally occurring gaseous plant food is as far as most politicians get, a woeful situation which allows 3-NBA to pollute our streets. Ministers should move away from their traditional emissionary position and take a wider, more realistic view."
Notes for Editors
(1) see ABD PR 465
(2) TRL Report 431, page 37