Copping out at Copenhagen: Transport and Climate Change

This week takes the question of transport alternatives and sustainability prominently onto the world stage, as leaders gathered in Copenhagen discussed ways to reduce carbon emissions from fossil fuels. They did not take giant strides at this summit, but they will inevitably have to address the issue.

As we know, transport is a leading cause of carbon emissions in many parts of the world, and is a rapidly growing source in China and India due to fast-paced motorisation. We should be telling the leaders and policymakers that cutting down vehicle use can help reduce carbon emissions — and provide people low-cost, safe and comfortable alternatives.

A policy with the goal that everyone must be able to use personal vehicles, on the ground that it will make everyone equal, is patently dishonest. It only helps the automotive and fossil fuel lobbies. The marginal efficiency of the car is rapidly declining, and it will go down even faster as more vehicles hit the roads. The only true choice is to have public alternatives that are affordable, comfortable, safe, punctual and widely accessible. Governments must be compelled to invest more in these public alternatives.

We have to make our voices heard on the question now, and in the future, before the leaders gather again. To track transport-related developments closely, we are now on Twitter at http://twitter.com/straphanger_in

Is your city doing anything significant to improve walking, bicycling, and public transport? Do your roads have crossing points for pedestrians that are safe and adequate? We invite you to share your experiences. Write on the wall of the cause.

There’s no time to lose. Let us build the pressure from the ground up!

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