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Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:18 pm on 5th February 2020.

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Photo of Andy McDonald Andy McDonald Shadow Secretary of State for Transport 4:18 pm, 5th February 2020

I beg to move,

That this House
acknowledges that the UK’s transport emissions have not substantially fallen since 1990 and have increased since 2010;
and calls on the Government to develop and implement a plan to eliminate the substantial majority of transport emissions by 2030, to decarbonise the UK’s entire bus network, to invest in an electric vehicle charging network that can support the majority of vehicles on the UK’s roads by 2030, to cut bus and rail fares, to increase public transport patronage, to provide funding for cycling and walking, including investment in cycleways and grants for ebikes, to introduce a network of clean air zones to tackle illegal levels of air pollution, and to bring aviation emissions within the UK’s climate targets.

The fires blazing in Australia are a catastrophe for that nation and its people, but it is not the only country at risk from such ravages. The burning infernos are a reminder of the new landscape that the climate crisis is creating across the world. The challenge is no longer abstract but a very real and devastating reality. I am proud, therefore, of the Labour party’s pledge to put tackling the climate crisis at the heart of our transport and wider economic policy. It is both right and necessary, not least because since 2010 the transport policies of Tory Governments have done so much to undermine sustainable transport.

The Government have failed to provide leadership on climate change. Those are not my words, but those of the former Conservative rail and environment Minister Claire O’Neill. She also said that the Government were “miles off track” in the setting of a positive agenda for the COP26 United Nations summit in Glasgow, and that “promises” of action were

“not close to being met.”

The Prime Minister’s pledge yesterday to make the UK a world leader in the tackling of climate change is beyond risible. This is not year zero. The Tories have been in power for a decade, and some of us have not forgotten the last 10 years of broken promises and empty pledges on transport. Here are a few.

The “Road to Zero” transport decarbonisation strategy had no money or political will behind it, so is barely worth the paper it was written on. There have been vast cuts in bus funding and services; huge cuts in rail electrification programmes; support for airport expansion; and major road expansion programmes. Those actions are a matter of fact and public record. They are not the actions of a Government who are serious about tackling the climate crisis; they are the actions of a Government without a relevant transport policy.