News: ‘Transport is the biggest cause of greenhouse gases’

Anthony Rae writes: That’s the headline in today’s Times 7th February 2018, and the article continues: ‘Transport causes more greenhouse gas pollution than any other sector although emissions overall continue to fall, the latest statistics show.  … Emissions from energy supply fell 17 per cent year-on-year, while transport emissions rose 2 per cent in 2016. … Transport now accounts for 26 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, compared with 25 per cent from energy supplies.’  Go to the BEIS one page summary, and there are the figures: total UK GHGs down 41% since 1990, but transport reduced only by 2% over the same period and actually increased 2% in 2015-16.

But actually transport’s problem is even worse, because look at the BEIS definition of what constitutes ‘transport’: ‘The transport sector consists of emissions from domestic aviation, road transport, railways, shipping, fishing and aircraft support vehicles.’ our emphasis p.18 So international aviation (and shipping) has been omitted, and therefore a big slab of emissions has just ‘disappeared’. But the continued use of the term ‘transport sector’ – implying every bit of transport – must mean that almost everyone won’t be aware of what amounts to a statistical deception.

So what’s the true figure – for all transport? It’s not 26% but … 36%! And who says so? Dft themselves. Go to page 61pdf of their Beyond the Horizon: the Future of Aviation (July 2017) and look at the bottom chart. It’s the first occasion I think where they’ve actually and honestly presented the total number ‘with nowt taken out’. And it’s also ‘36% and rising’ because those are the 2015 numbers, and aviation alone then displayed relentless growth in passenger numbers (and therefore emissions) in 2016 and 2017

The Times as well notes what the CCC have said needs to happen in just the next 12 years … but remember this also just refers to domestic transport; aviation, again, is on top: ” The Committee on Climate Change, which advises the government on meeting legally binding climate targets, has said transport emissions must fall by 44 per cent by 2030.”

So how does the TfN strategy deal with this muddle, misrepresentation and massive challenge?