Green choices need to be inexpensive to get people on board

(27 January, 2021)

Big changes need to be done properly to win hearts and minds

39407The Melbourne Grove LEN

If the government wants to get serious about meeting climate targets then green choices can’t continue being the most expensive.

Solar panels, renewable electricity, and electric cars need more subsidy and support for people who want to do the right thing but struggle to meet high up-front costs.

In a similar vein, winning people round to the long term benefits of low emissions neighbourhoods, emissions charges and the expansion of the ULEZ means persuading people who are on the fence.

There are a huge number of people in dire financial straits, or who are worried about using public transport because of COVID-19, or who rely on driving for work or other commitments.

Not everyone can cycle, use a bus or walk. Although it’s good news the council is taking a flexible approach to some of the ludicrously high charges handed to people who missed poor signage or confusing new road layouts, there is also a real danger that the hodgepodge implementation of the low traffic zones has hardened attitudes – whether for or against.

Amid the personal difficulty of going green, the bigger picture is that the direction of travel simply has to be towards cleaner, greener transport and air.

New sobering research has highlighted that air pollution was responsible for the deaths of 4,000 Londoners in 2019 alone.

Many more are struggling with asthma and other conditions both partly caused and also worsened by dirty air.

Recent weeks have also highlighted the impact of climate change – more flooding, and more freak weather conditions.

This month the High Court ruled that the rapidly imposed road changes in the capital were ‘unlawful’.

Along with public outcry over the fines handed out, and the ongoing difficulty securing finance for cleaner vehicles, there is a real fear that pushing flawed schemes through too quickly has done long term damage.

To avoid another major set back among hearts and minds of the public we need to see big polluters taxed properly, more public transport investment, a huge programme of support to help people buy electric cars and – in the review of all council-led road changes – the ‘coherent’ plan we were promised.


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