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Rishi Sunak’s watered-down net zero policies could “destroy any hopes of a cycle friendly future,” says Cycling UK

The charity has launched a campaign urging cyclists to write to the prime minister showing their support for cycling and green-friendly schemes

Rishi Sunak’s much ridiculed and widely condemned pledge to water down some of the government’s key net zero commitments has been criticised by Cycling UK, who say the prime minister’s ongoing attack on green initiatives and schemes could “destroy any hopes of a cycle friendly future”.

Among the climate change-focused policies and proposals the prime minister claimed he was set to axe or row back on yesterday include his already infamous promise to prevent the possibility of meat taxes, flying bans, and forcing families to have seven bins (three measures which have since been dismissed by former government colleagues as “straw men”), along with delaying the sale of new diesel and petrol cars by five years and weakening targets to phase out gas boilers.

Sunak claimed last night and in interviews today that the UK’s net zero target for 2050 remains in place even after this latest flurry of U-turns on key climate targets – though the Climate Change Committee, which already deemed the country’s progress towards net zero “worryingly slow”, has said that the prime minister’s latest bid to seize the political agenda has moved the UK “backwards”.

> Rishi Sunak is “on the side” of drivers – What happened to Britain’s “golden age for cycling”?

And now Cycling UK has called on the country’s cyclists to put pressure on Sunak to retain the range of traffic-calming and active travel schemes implemented in recent years, with the charity arguing that yesterday’s “watering down” of the UK’s net zero commitments underlines the need for the public to show their support for green, healthy policies.

The prospect of active travel initiatives being dragged onto the campaign trail ahead of the next general election became increasingly likely over the summer, in the wake of the Conservatives’ win at the Uxbridge and South Ruislip by-election, a narrow victory credited to the Tory opposition to Labour mayor Sadiq Khan’s plans to extend London’s Ultra-Low Emission Zone.

In the wake of that symbolic by-election, Sunak announced that was “on the side” of motorists and ordered the Department for Transport (DfT) to undertake a review of LTNs and traffic-calming measures, prompting Cycling UK to urge the prime minister to avoid sowing dissension between cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists by using the schemes as a “political football” during the election campaign.

> Rishi Sunak accused of seeking to exploit division over LTNs as he orders review of schemes

Faced with yesterday’s watering down of key green policies, and fearing the prospect of a similar U-turn on active travel, Cycling UK has urged cyclists to “stand up and be counted” by writing to the prime minister outlining their support for LTNs and other measures designed to improve walking and cycling, such as the implementation of 20mph zones, to ensure that politicians “know you want action for safer cycling”.

Rishi Sunak (Cycling UK)

“In response to a by-election win with a margin of just 495 votes, Rishi Sunak and his ministers have attacked their own government policy supporting low traffic neighbourhoods and 20mph zones in England,” Cycling UK say, telling road.cc that more than 5,000 people have already used their portal to share their concerns with the PM.

“These vital measures have likely helped bring cycling fatalities to a 30-year low, but we urgently need to see them rolled out more widely, alongside protected cycle lanes. A government U-turn on safe residential roads would destroy any hopes of a cycle friendly future.”

Keir Gallagher, Cycling UK campaigns manager, told road.cc today: “Yesterday’s announcement which saw the watering down of Net Zero commitments shows how important it is for the public to show their support for measures which are green, good for the public health, and affordable. Enabling cycling ticks all of these boxes.

“Politicians today seem to rely on faceless polling to make policy decisions on the hoof, but by writing to the Prime Minister this is an opportunity to show that individuals care and matter.”

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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hawkinspeter | 10 months ago
3 likes

Seven Bins Sunak is at it again: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-66900999

Quote:

In response, energy analyst Jess Ralston at the non-profit organisation, the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, told the BBC: "This appears to be yet another U-turn that could lead to higher bills, just like the prime minister's decision last week to roll back landlord insulation standards that could leave renters paying an additional £8bn on energy bills.

"The gas boiler and petrol car phase-out weren't set to have any impact on cost of living for struggling families for more than a decade, but insulation programmes could have a more immediate impact, yet the prime minister ditched that policy last week and now the government seems to be turning its back on experts and ideas that could help boost energy efficiency."

She added: "Is government giving up on energy efficiency and those living in leaky homes unable to make the improvements that would keep them warmer?

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chrisonabike replied to hawkinspeter | 10 months ago
2 likes

Reminds me of Cornershop's album, was it "When I Was Binned For The 7th Time"?

https://www.cornershop.com/2018/07/when-i-was-born-for-the-7th-time-a-pe...

Of course Rishi has only been binned once so far (in the leadership race).

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levestane | 10 months ago
5 likes

Maybe all aspiring leaders should declare their ecological footprints so that we can see who is doing the most damage.

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hawkinspeter replied to levestane | 10 months ago
5 likes

levestane wrote:

Maybe all aspiring leaders should declare their ecological footprints so that we can see who is doing the most damage.

Whilst the wealthy undoubtedly use far more resources than the rest of us, I think it's a mistake to think in terms of individual CO2 footprints. The issue is the large scale industries and that's where we need to focus efforts to salvage what kind of world the future will have.

Getting people to separate recyclables is merely rearranging chairs on the titanic at this point. Big industries just laugh when they see people accusing other people of eating meat or flying abroad or chucking away a broken Ultegra crank. Even billionaires with their private jets are a mere drop in the warming ocean compared to international companies.

Of course, cycling instead of driving is still a very good choice as it improves your health, well-being and doesn't make the air pollution any worse. It's not going to stop us from reaping the decades of ignoring the issues though.

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levestane replied to hawkinspeter | 10 months ago
5 likes

hawkinspeter wrote:

levestane wrote:

Maybe all aspiring leaders should declare their ecological footprints so that we can see who is doing the most damage.

Whilst the wealthy undoubtedly use far more resources than the rest of us, I think it's a mistake to think in terms of individual CO2 footprints. The issue is the large scale industries and that's where we need to focus efforts to salvage what kind of world the future will have.

Getting people to separate recyclables is merely rearranging chairs on the titanic at this point. Big industries just laugh when they see people accusing other people of eating meat or flying abroad or chucking away a broken Ultegra crank. Even billionaires with their private jets are a mere drop in the warming ocean compared to international companies.

Of course, cycling instead of driving is still a very good choice as it improves your health, well-being and doesn't make the air pollution any worse. It's not going to stop us from reaping the decades of ignoring the issues though.

I very much agree but big industry comprises us. I would include everything (including their employment impact) an individual does in their lives in the ecological footprint. This then automatically adds up to the total human ecological footprint. The current calculator seem to be missing these components.

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hawkinspeter replied to levestane | 10 months ago
4 likes

levestane wrote:

I very much agree but big industry comprises us. I would include everything (including their employment impact) an individual does in their lives in the ecological footprint. This then automatically adds up to the total human ecological footprint. The current calculator seem to be missing these components.

Unless you're receiving the huge profits made by international companies, then I don't think it's fair to be assigned blame for decisions we have no power over. Executives get paid more when they find short-cuts or loop-holes so that they can strip reources faster than anyone else - it's a fundamental principle of capitalism.

It's like putting Jeff Bezos and Amazon workers into the same boat and blaming them equally for the damage that the company does, whilst forgetting that Bezos arses around with space-faring rockets for fun and the employees pee in bottles as they can't afford the time for a pee-break.

There's ordinary people trying to do at least a little bit for the environment, whilst business execs are deliberately trying to find the cheapest way of dumping waste into the environment (e.g. privately owned water companies trashing our rivers and seas in the pursuit of profit). There's people who are acting against our best interests and they care not one jot for the future as they've got enough cash to bribe their way out of trouble or onto exclusive fortified properties.

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Oldfatgit | 10 months ago
6 likes

Lufthansa ran 21,000 empty flights in the winter of 21/22.
Brussels Airlines ran 3,000 empty flights ib the same period.
Around 500 empty flights a month are made in the UK.
"Just" to keep slots at airports.

Meanwhile .. I've got to convince my kids that it's because they left the toilet light on overnight, or had an extra 2 mins in the shower, the planet is dying.

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hawkinspeter replied to Oldfatgit | 10 months ago
0 likes

Oldfatgit wrote:

Lufthansa ran 21,000 empty flights in the winter of 21/22. Brussels Airlines ran 3,000 empty flights ib the same period. Around 500 empty flights a month are made in the UK. "Just" to keep slots at airports. Meanwhile .. I've got to convince my kids that it's because they left the toilet light on overnight, or had an extra 2 mins in the shower, the planet is dying.

Well, at least they're paying a good amount of tax on their aviation fuel....

Luckily, we pay air passenger duty which the Treasury refers to as an environmental tax, despite none of it being earmarked for environmental projects.

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Simon E replied to Oldfatgit | 10 months ago
8 likes

Oldfatgit wrote:

Lufthansa ran 21,000 empty flights in the winter of 21/22. Brussels Airlines ran 3,000 empty flights ib the same period. Around 500 empty flights a month are made in the UK. "Just" to keep slots at airports.

Meanwhile .. I've got to convince my kids that it's because they left the toilet light on overnight, or had an extra 2 mins in the shower, the planet is dying.

Private jets and private boats / superyachts owned by the wealthy probably use more fuel than the rest of us put together.

Sunak is weak. As hawkinspeter wrote last night, he's playing to the denialists in the party, not for one moment considering the environment or our futures.

Big businesses and their puppet politicians don't even want us to recycle, just look at the opposition to a Depost Return scheme on bottles and cans or the way councils including have dragged their feet over kerbside collection. Focussing on ephemeral things like single-use plastic bags and takeaway coffee cups is pathetic when you know that MPs do their donors' bidding and screw everyone and everything else for profit. In their eyes cycling is de facto an anti-capitalist activity, we are subversives because we're not going to buy new cars or petrol as they want us to.

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NOtotheEU replied to Simon E | 10 months ago
8 likes

Simon E wrote:

Private jets and private boats / superyachts owned by the wealthy probably use more fuel than the rest of us put together.

But how else would they get to the climate conferences where they decide how the regular people are going to save the planet for them to enjoy in the future?

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cyclisto | 10 months ago
4 likes

Let's be honest, climate change prevention in nation wide scale is very wrong.

Why? Because it costs a LOT of money and the results are reaped across the world, not in the country. A little cynic but true.

What governments should do is focus their campaigns in improved air quality where results go directly at the right area. Poor air quality kills and makes us stink. The bigest challenge to commuting at my area, where I have surprisingly good segregated infrastructure, is not cars themselves but their emissions as I can clearly smell them and have reduced sense of smell because of it. My main route is low volume roads but I understand it when I cross roads with heavier traffic.

Internal combustion engines and fossil fuel heating (especially using diesel) in cities should be shamed as much as smoking in public closed places. Cars should be sold with stickers like "your internal combustion engine can kill you and the ones you love". We need more attention to that issue.

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chrisonabike replied to cyclisto | 10 months ago
2 likes

cyclisto wrote:

Let's be honest, climate change prevention in nation wide scale is very wrong.

Why? Because it costs a LOT of money and the results are reaped across the world, not in the country. A little cynic but true.

What governments should do is focus their campaigns in improved air quality where results go directly at the right area. Poor air quality kills and makes us stink.

Unfortunately the issues we have created (e.g. greenhouse gases, climate change, overuse of resources) do not stop at a town's, or county's, or nation's boundaries.

This is part of what makes this a three-pipe problem.  The excuses of "I'm OK, what problem?" or "I would but just not now, not here" or "next door are worse than me and they're not playing along" apply locally, nationally AND internationally.

I also suspect that the hopeful way forward is trying to frame the question as a local issue first - after all we're humans.  This has to be done with great care however.  First - in the UK anyway - it's no longer as obvious as "look at these dirty black fumes!  They poison children and soil your washing!  That's why you don't get to have your house warmer than 19 degreees year-round".

Second - I suspect people are now more educated about these issues than say a decade back.  So helpful "fairy tales" would be harder to instill.

A local focus also doesn't of itself do anything about coordinating the actions of other billions around the world.  People are more aware of this at the moment, plus there are plenty of ongoing demonstrations of international disunity and conflict to make us think "yeah - but they won't".

Can the needed changes be framed as benefits?  I suspect the "fear" method makes some give up and others (in the UK) will say "we don't see any serious issues here".  For insulation / heating maybe "save money and be warmer".  For transport maybe "look - your kids can cycle to school, and you can hear yourself speak in the streets".

I think however you sell it it has to sidestep the "falling behind the Joneses" / "we'll all be poorer, and then foreign powers who kept growing when we slowed will come and take over" argument*.  And ideally the "benefits" need to be compelling enough to advertise outside our own borders.

* I suspect it's competitiveness and/or the fear of losing out / not keeping our status which mostly keep us spinning our hamster-wheels.

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Steve K | 10 months ago
6 likes

Has any interviewer actually asked Sunak how he can claim we will still meet the 2050 target when the statutory climate change commission had already said we were at risk of missing it before he relaxed measures?

Or whether he understands that the trajectory to 2050 is as important as the target itself.  Carrying on emiting carbon at the current rate until 31 December 2049 and then suddenly getting to net zero would do irrepairable damage to the planet.

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hawkinspeter replied to Steve K | 10 months ago
12 likes

Steve K wrote:

Has any interviewer actually asked Sunak how he can claim we will still meet the 2050 target when the statutory climate change commission had already said we were at risk of missing it before he relaxed measures?

Or whether he understands that the trajectory to 2050 is as important as the target itself.  Carrying on emiting carbon at the current rate until 31 December 2049 and then suddenly getting to net zero would do irrepairable damage to the planet.

It's clear that Seven Bins Sunak never had any intention of trying to keep to that legal commitment. By doing less now, it pushes up the total economic cost to the UK as well as the cost to our planet.

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brooksby replied to hawkinspeter | 10 months ago
10 likes

It's funny, how the UK is more and more developing a reputation as a country which doesn't stand by its word or stick to its commitments.  Look at the mess over the NI protocols on trade, and now this on 'net zero'.  At this rate, we'll be a full-blown pariah state soon...  Hey, but at least we'll have our sovereignty 

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chrisonabike replied to brooksby | 10 months ago
2 likes

brooksby wrote:

It's funny, how the UK is more and more developing a reputation as a country which doesn't stand by its word or stick to its commitments.  Look at the mess over the NI protocols on trade, and now this on 'net zero'.  At this rate, we'll be a full-blown pariah state soon...  Hey, but at least we'll have our sovereignty 

It's always been a puzzle to me why we have that reputation.  The UK appears to have been at least as duplicitous as any other nation state.  And "flexible" in how it interprets agreements.  (I have seen it argued though that the UK was more likely to pedantically stick to the letter of some former EU agreements but then whine about them rather than continental practice of playing along while cheerfully bending the rules to suit.)

Arguably the English language itself may tend towards being more explicit than some but you can equally use it to make ambigous or unclear statements.

Perhaps it's "being polite and courteous" and a habit of lying without technically lying?  Post-Boris, perhaps we won't bother so much?

Still - if we get a bad reputation, at least now that will be our reputation!

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ktache replied to chrisonabike | 10 months ago
6 likes

Perfidious Albion.

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IanMK replied to Steve K | 10 months ago
0 likes

I think that very point will be tested through the courts.

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hawkinspeter | 10 months ago
6 likes

Rishi "Seven Bins" Sunak by Jonathan Pie:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iAleHFLP03A

Quote:

Sunak may have inadvertently managed to unite the energy sector, car manufacturers and environmental groups...

...in condemning the U-turn

 

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Rome73 | 10 months ago
7 likes

'Build Back  Better'. LOL 😂 

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brooksby replied to Rome73 | 10 months ago
4 likes

BIRMINGHAMisaDUMP wrote:

'Build Back  Better'. LOL 😂 

Coiugh - cough - "levelling up" (definitely not down) - cough - cough.

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Backladder replied to brooksby | 10 months ago
6 likes

brooksby wrote:

BIRMINGHAMisaDUMP wrote:

'Build Back  Better'. LOL 😂 

Coiugh - cough - "levelling up" (definitely not down) - cough - cough.

Levelling up should obviously start where the biggest gaps are and if you look at the 2023 Sunday Times rich list then Sir Jim Ratcliffe needs more than £5 billion to match Gopi Hinduja and family and Lakshmi Mittal and family need £7 billion to match Sir James Dyson and family so levelling up at the top is far more important than at the bottom where people are just a few pounds apart.

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chrisonabike replied to Backladder | 10 months ago
1 like

Good news then!  It's within your power to become a valued benefactor if you just give a few pounds to a stranger, because most of them presumably are closer to the other end of the spectrum than those on that list!  I'm guessing you could dump your net worth at the feet of one of the folks you mention and at their hourly rate you'd still end up owing them for the time they spent watching you...

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Backladder replied to chrisonabike | 10 months ago
1 like

Most people wouldn't even be able to see my net worth from a distance of 5 feet! 

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Cycloid | 10 months ago
8 likes

That Net Zero statement from Downing St was the most cringemaking bit of TV I have seen since the Laura Kuensberg interview with a member of the Royal Family.

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IanMK replied to Cycloid | 10 months ago
5 likes

But thankfully he made it clear that he's reversed that policy to tax meat.

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Rendel Harris replied to IanMK | 10 months ago
9 likes

IanMK wrote:

But thankfully he made it clear that he's reversed that policy to tax meat.

And no enforced car sharing like what that Jeremy Corbyn was going to impose.

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eburtthebike replied to IanMK | 10 months ago
6 likes

IanMK wrote:

But thankfully he made it clear that he's reversed that policy to tax meat.

The policy which didn't even exist?

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Left_is_for_Losers replied to Cycloid | 10 months ago
1 like

Cycloid wrote:

That Net Zero statement from Downing St was the most cringemaking bit of TV I have seen since the Laura Kuensberg interview with a member of the Royal Family.

Poorly done maybe, but what a necessary announcement. Well done to the Tories for doing something meaningful to help ordinary people that no-one else was daring to do. 

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essexian replied to Left_is_for_Losers | 10 months ago
16 likes

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha...breathe.....Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha....stop it.....Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha....

Sad, sad troll. 

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