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Transport for the North: Failing on the climate crisis

Transport for the North has to be judged as failing on the climate crisis because it is not telling the truth, not acting appropriately and not engaging properly with citizens.

Background

Transport for the North (TfN) [1] can be regarded as the northern England branch of the UK's Department for Transport. It produced its Strategic Transport Plan [2] in January 2019. As part of the policy-making process, a sustainability appraisal [3] was commissioned from Atkins.

TfN not telling the truth

The sustainability appraisal [3] referred to the United Nations IPCC SR15 report [4] and noted (p43) that
"...the need to implement policies and measures to ensure reductions in overall national emissions of at least 57% in the period to 2030 is now even more critical."
Given (1) that fossil fuel use is currently essential for motor vehicles, and (2) that CO2 emissions from transport form a large fraction of the UK's carbon footprint, this is a key piece of evidence to inform the Strategy.

However this key piece of evidence was omitted from the Strategy and instead the Strategy recommended large investment in transport infrastructure for motor vehicles.

TfN not acting appropriately

TfN has so far failed to plan for a reduction in north of England transport emissions of 57% by 2030, or even acknowledge the need to do so.

Worse, it has produced a report advocating the further building of roads, including its 700 million road building plan of August 2019 [5]. This also omits mention of the TfN sustainability appraisal and the need for a rapid cut in emissions.

TfN not engaging properly with citizens

Questions have been submitted to TfN via Twitter asking why reference to the IPCC SR15 report was omitted from the TfN Strategy - whether it was inadvertent or deliberate - but the questions have not been answered.

There have also been no answers to questions about who was involved in deciding to omit reference to the SR15 report. Was the TfN Board involved, or was the decision made by the officers?

Conclusion

Transport for the North is not telling the truth, not acting appropriately and not engaging properly with citizens. We have a right to expect competent administration. Transport for the North has to be judged as failing in policy making. Given the importance of the climate crisis, this failure is a scandal.

References

[1]Transport for the North https://transportforthenorth.com/
[2]Transport for the North (Jan 2019) Strategic Transport Plan https://transportforthenorth.com/onenorth/
[3]Transport for the North / Atkins (Jan 2019) Strategic Transport Plan Independent Integrated Sustainability Appraisal: Carbon Review https://transportforthenorth.com/wp-content/uploads/Independent-Integrated-Sustainability-Appraisal-Carbon-Review-min.pdf
[4]https://www.carbonindependent.org/54.html
[5]Transport for the North (Aug 2019) Transforming journeys in the North: The case for investment in roads https://transportforthenorth.com/wp-content/uploads/TftN_MRN1_Prospectus_A4_Online_PDF_Optimised-2.pdf

First published: Feb 2020
Last updated: 19 Feb 2020