Limiting climate change: the changing role of public transport

Paper presented at the ATCO Summer Conference ‘Why public transport? Why ATCO?’, Llandudno, Wales, 14 -15 June 2007.

A realistic future for any aspect of policy cannot be determined without reference to key factors that could substantially limit or enlarge its scope. The future role of transport is an obvious case in point. Consider the implications of the key factor that is now being widely recognised as the most pressing issue of our time, that is the one stemming from the near-consensus in the scientific community that global warming is occurring. Greenhouse gas emissions from human activity are relentlessly accelerating global climate change. Mountain glaciers are retreating, sea levels rising, and weather patterns, especially temperatures, altering alarmingly. A very real threat to life on earth is in prospect as the planet has only a finite capacity to absorb greenhouse gas emissions without serious, probably irreversible damage.

Continue reading

Promoting the concepts of solar cities: the only effective strategy

Solar Cities Congress, Oxford, April 2006

The quality of future life on earth is on a slow but accelerating decline. The cause is the outcome of the profligacy with which the world’s finite reserves of fossil fuels have been used. It is imperative that all realistic means are now found for dramatically switching to energy-thrifty practices from current ones. The structural forms and layouts as well as the detailed design elements of solar cities can make a significant contribution to this objective by exploiting the direct and indirect benefits of the sun’s energy. Continue reading

What is sustainable growth?

Keynote speech for the 17th Annual TRICS Conference on Achieving Sustainable Growth, Regents Park Marriott Hotel, London, 1-2 November 2005.

A realistic future for any aspect of policy cannot be determined without reference to key factors that could substantially limit or enlarge its scope. The future role of transport is an obvious case in point. Consider the implications of the one key factor that is now being widely recognised as the most pressing issue of our time – indeed of any time! Continue reading

17: Rail subsidy – an environmental good?

In spite of the relatively high price of petroleum for cars and the economies of carrying large numbers of people on a train, car travel is in general much cheaper than rail travel. This fact is widely viewed as scandalous when considered against successive governments’ objectives of reducing the environmental impacts of car (and lorry) traffic and of reducing the need for more road building to cater for the continuing growth in demand for transport. Continue reading

Emerging innovative transport systems: a sceptical view

As the 20th century progressed down the road towards delivering people’s aspiration for ever-improving levels of motorised mobility, so too did identification of a range of problems that come in its wake. Not least of these was the fact that the three pre-requisites of optional car use — adequate age, income and of course ability to pass the driving test — could never be met by the majority of the population. Sadly, this was not acknowledged as sufficient justification for not attempting to maximise the number of people who could benefit. Continue reading

Integrated transport white paper

A memorandum for the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Committee.

This short Memorandum represents a commentary on the Government’s White Paper on the Future of Transport. After highlighting radical elements in the White Paper which provide grounds for optimism, it briefly raises nine inter-related and critical themes in the Paper: the justification for traffic restraint; the breadth of modal choice; the balance between persuasion and coercion in practice; the dangers of exaggerating the role of public transport; pricing, subsidy and hypothecation; health promotion and danger reduction; the scope of technology in energy conservation; limits on demand for travel; and the response to the threat of climate change. These, particularly the last, provide grounds for serious concern about the direction the Paper proposes for the first decades of the next century. Continue reading

Terminal 5 Inquiry: The implications of climate change for the future of air travel

Written statement by Mayer Hillman for the Terminal 5 Inquiry. Published by Government of London, April 1998.

Dr. Hillman is a graduate of University College London, and of the University of Edinburgh. He is Senior Fellow Emeritus of the Policy Studies Institute – Britain’s leading independent research organisation in the economic and social policy fields – where he was engaged from 1970 to 1991 as the Head of the Institute’s Environment and Quality of Life Research Programme. His studies have been concerned with transport, urban planning, health promotion, and energy conservation and environment policies. He has written extensively on these subjects. Continue reading

The end of the road: where now?

The demand for car travel appears to have no limit. Even in the United States, which may be thought to be close to satiation, both vehicle and passenger kilometres have increased in the last ten years by 40 per cent – a similar extent to the UK. Pressure for road building to keep pace with the demand continues, albeit in the face of ever more evidence that its growth is unsustainable and the absence of proof that it contributes to the nation’s prosperity or people’s quality of life. Continue reading

Cities, transport and the health of the citizen

Paper presented at the workshop Environment, traffic and urban planning, European Academy of the Urban Environment, Berlin, Germany 30 Nov – 4 Dec 1992.

Motorised transport in the towns and cities of Europe, as elsewhere, damages the health and well-being of their citizens in a wide variety of ways many of which are poorly recognised in public policy decision-making (Ref: Healthy Transport Policy). Its direct impact can be shown to be detrimental most obviously in its physical manifestation in death and injury in road accidents. But it also has psychological consequences owing not only to distress among those directly affected but also to fear and anxiety about the risk of accidents occurring. There are too pathological effects as the pollution and noise from motor vehicles are a source of disease and mental impairment, and ecological effects as the exhaust emissions from traffic are a major contributor to global warming which is highly deleterious to the planet’s ‘health’. Continue reading

Uses and abuses of transport and road safety statistics in policy formation

Manchester Statistical Society, Occasional Paper, July 1992.

Many fundamental and closely-related assumptions underlying transport and road safety policy are derived from surveys conducted and statistical data collected regularly by the Department of Transport. The findings are used principally as an aid to the formation of government policy and for monitoring progress on its implementation. Continue reading