We store cookies on your device to make sure we give you the best experience on this website. I'm fine with this - Turn cookies off
Switch to an accessible version of this website which is easier to read. (requires cookies)

test-vid-transport ARTICLE

March 6, 2021 6:46 PM


Start recording

Caron: As with every session that we're doing with GLD they start in this way. As you know, or perhaps you don't, there are various upcoming elections including that of party leader. Members of the GLD 2020 vision audience are asked to remain impartial during sessions. It is possible that some members attending today are standing in those upcoming elections. We ask that during GLD sessions there be no campaigning in the chat and that members refrain from any expression of preference towards a specific candidate. The GLD team who've organized this event have been meeting under these terms and they ask that today you conduct yourself with respect too.
So that we're in a space that we can all feel comfortable in, and if people do want to speak out about particular things that are happening to them, this is a safe space. Every single one of us attending here today is entitled to occupy a safe space. A space free of fear and a space free of bullying and harassment of any kind. We will treat one another with politeness and respect at all times and if we are subjected to or witness bullying, harassment or abuse online we will speak out knowing that our voices will be heard and that we will be taken seriously. Together we can occupy a safe space.
Using that chat panel at the side, you will reveal your name. Being in the chat, your name is revealed because you have it in the bottom of your corner. You can change your name if you want to give yourself something more appropriate, please be clean and polite, please do not share personal data of attendees speakers or GLD organizers in the session chat.
Please use the chat to dialogue in context with what's being talked about and finally be courteous, be constructive, be critical. Do not be disruptive derogatory or defamatory.
With those ground rules in place I'm going to open the video to Keith who will tell you a bit about what this session is all about.

Keith Melton: Thank you very much indeed, it's good to see so many people here. I wasn't quite sure how many people this would attract because we had said that it was a workshop session, so I'm really pleased there are plenty of people here.

We've got two 'primary speakers' if you like. We've got Greg Archer who is the UK director of transport and environment and Chris Bowers who is a long-standing Liberal Democrat expert on transport. They're going to lead the way, perhaps spend two or three minutes just opening the session, with a few good words.

I thought I would tell you a little story about myself to start this. You will have noticed, those of you who were in here a few minutes ago, when I was sharing the documents that I've prepared for us to write notes on, you would have seen one called Free Public Transport.

The whole reason that I am here goes back to 1971 which is when I went back to university to do a master's degree. Having been a member of the Young Liberals at the university in my first degree, when I went back somebody approached me and said 'Keith you've been a member of the Union of Liberal Students before. We're doing a public debate in the student union. Would you like to speak in the public debate?'. I said 'Well, yes okay, that would be fine. What's the debate about?' and I was told the debate is about free public transport. So, being a seasoned debater I said 'Which side would you like me to speak about?' Because, a good debater really has to know enough about both sides, and be able to speak about both sides, and try and convince people both ways. So they I they looked at me rather askance and said 'Well, which side do you want to speak about?' So, I mentally flipped a coin and it came down 'I'll speak about, I'll speak in favour of free public transport'.

In the ensuing research that I did, I suddenly discovered that free public transport would perhaps be a way to reduce transport, traffic, improve the environment, and I became involved in environmental action as a result of that mental coin flip.

So, serendipity has played a huge part in my life, and I eventually ran the Institute for Sustainable Development in Business at Nottingham Trent University, which I wouldn't have done, if I hadn't flipped that mental coin. So, this really is a session that is very close to my heart, I've been supporting free public transport ever since then, and I was lucky enough to travel recently in Luxembourg on their bus service, which is now being run for free, so that's perhaps something we might talk about this afternoon.

So, I'm going to hand over quickly to Chris to set the scene, and ask him then to hand over to Greg to tell us a little bit about his job and what he does. Then we'll get into the workshop session, so Chris, if you would like to take over at this point.

Thanks Keith. Yeah, I'm Chris Powers I've been a Liberal Democrat for more years than I care to remember. I was the founder director of the Environmental Transport Association back in 1990 and I've also worked for the European Federation for Transport Environment generally in areas of transport and environment, the organization Greg works for, although I'm more on the communications side. I also steered the transport section of the Party's climate change review last year, originally under Lynn Featherstone, then under Wera Hobhouse, which became the party's climate change policy at last year's general election.

I'd just like to welcome the most important people here, and that's you, because when Keith discussed having this meeting with me earlier this year, I said 'yeah fine, but let's not just have another talking shop about what needs to happen. Let's actually try and bridge the gap between what we know needs to happen, and what can happen through the political process.' We all know that urgent action is necessary, and if we lived in a dictatorship the only person we'd have to persuade would be the dictator. Fortunately, we don't, but it does mean that we're in that situation where if we're going to have meaningful action to tackle climate change and other environmental problems, we are going to have to make policies acceptable to voters who will vote for the people who will make it all happen.

So, I want to make this a practical workshop, I want to make it so such that we throw up all sorts of ideas about how we can package the kind of policy policies that we know will be necessary to tackle climate change, in such a way that people will vote for them. Therefore, in a few minutes i'm going to throw this open to you, and I'd like all sorts of suggestions, even if it's just you know, so, maybe out of left field, but sometimes if you think the unthinkable it actually creates an idea that does become practical.

So I hope by 3:30 today we have, you know, a handful of ideas that maybe we haven't thought about, or maybe have been thought about but need further exploration. Just so that there could be something practical that comes out of this workshop, but in order to give it a little bit of shape I've invited along Greg Archer who i've worked with over many years for Transport and Environment, he was for many years the Clean Vehicles director in Brussels, moved back a couple of years ago to this country to head up the Transport and Environment UK office, but if by saying that he what he doesn't know about clean vehicles generally isn't known, is almost like damning him with specialized knowledge. He is tremendously knowledgeable about the whole transport and environment brief and therefore Greg will talk for a few minutes about what needs to happen and where political acceptance might be found, before I then throw it open to everybody to throw some ideas in.

Chris thank you very much for that introduction. I do have a a few slides to to go alongside what I have to say so that will hopefully help people follow what I'm saying. As Chris says I'm the UK director of Transport and Environment. T and E is actually Europe's biggest transport and environmental group and it now has an office in the UK.

I think there's a widely held belief that the green transport policies are unpopular vote losers, but if we actually delve into the detail, we find that many polls actually show the opposite, and what sometimes appears to be strong opposition against schemes is in fact a particularly vocal minority of special interest groups. Whereas the silent majority are often, if not strongly in favor, at least supportive of what is happening. So, take for example the popular belief that drivers can only be prized from their cars with punitive and unpopular policies.

Well, actually if you take data from the national transport survey, that asks drivers 'for the sake of the environment if everybody should reduce how much they use their cars' and 76%, three-quarters of people agree with that statement and just nine percent disagree. In fact, only 18 percent of people say that people should be allowed to use their cars as much as they like even if it damages the environment. Now, ask directly if people are willing to reduce the amount they use their car in order to reduce the impacts on climate change. More people still agree than disagree, but the majority is very much less - 43 against 32. However, it's also clear that there's been a very marked change in the last couple of years, with a lot more people in favour and a lot less disagreeing.

Let's take another, a similar pattern emerges with the sacred cow of aviation. If you ask people whether they should be able to travel by plane as much as they like even if that harms the environment 24% agree but 38% disagree. Not a big majority, but certainly a majority. Ask the specific policy question 'the price of a plane ticket should reflect the environmental damage flying causes even if this makes air travel more expensive' again 42% agree 32% disagree. So overall the a majority of people support that policy of raising the price of plane tickets. Now ask people whether they themselves are willing to reduce the amount they travel by plane to reduce the impact of climate change, we see a very much more mixed picture, only 17 agree 30 disagree. 30 percent neither agree nor disagree and a quarter of people say they never fly already. So, we can see that there are clearly challenges in terms of bringing together a policy in that area, but if it can be seen to be equitable then it's much more likely to be successful.

Certainly the flight scan movement in Sweden has recently been very effective in terms of discouraging people to reduce their plane use <http://www.apple.com>.

Now you might think that policies which are highly damaging must be really popular, but actually the evidence is the opposite. Again, it's actually a myth that drivers are plagued by congestion and that is the reason that road building is popular.

People in the national travel survey were asked 'thinking about traffic and transport problems 'how serious a problem for you is congestion on motorways?' Well, actually only 11% say it's a very serious problem and 55% say it's not a problem at all. So, spending 28 billion as the government plans to do on new trunk roads is certainly not based upon massive pressure from drivers. Probably comes from massive pressure from the construction industry. Many more drivers actually consider exhaust fumes and traffic in towns and cities to be a problem than they do congestion on motorways.

Now T and E has recently undertaken a survey of attitudes towards reallocating road space away from cars to other users such as public transport, cycling, walking and the like.

Workthat was carried out in May, and has been specifically designed to look at post lock down. Here we can see enormously high levels of support overall for that policy of shifting road space away from cars. In London, as you would expect it's 86%, just 3% oppose it.

But in other cities across the UK it's still around eight in ten people and the fascinating thing with this survey, is it shows consistency across age groups, between men and women, and between different income groups.

Now, support for individual measures is less than for the policy overall, but if they are still very strong and in favor of shifting away from cars and particularly polluting cars.

Now, we know that there are very unpopular policies, green transport policies, the referendums for example, on congestion charging in Manchester in 2008, in Edinburgh in 2005, were lost with very large majorities and that's a salient lesson.

But, the success of the London scheme is also very clear, and at the time that London mayor Ken Livingston was trying to bring the London congestion charge in London, a survey by the London chamber of commerce said that 25% of businesses were going to relocate out of London as a result. Actually, within six months of the scheme being operating over half of businesses said they were in favour of it.

So, it goes to show that one of the problems is that actually there is a resistance to implementing these schemes but once they're in place, people often support them, and thats also been found by research from Leeds University that looked at congestion charging schemes around the world, and they found exactly the same, strong opposition before they are implemented, good levels of support afterwards.

So, in many cases what we're seeing here is, I think, a fear created by highly vocal opposition groups. We've seen it recently with a cycle lane in in Manchester being removed within 24 hours of its introduction based on a petition of 100 people. A competing petition that wanted it, had over two and a half times the number of signatures, but was ignored.

So, often I think we we fear green travel policies without good reason because of this vocal minority of people. So, overall my message is we should be bolder, we should sell these these policies, because they will be beneficial overall, and if at a local and at a national level we implement them, within a very short period of time people will be supportive. Thank you.