Climate change and transport

A third of car drivers have been led on an environmental guilt trip

26 February 2009

Car exhaust emissions

A third of UK drivers have been led on an environmental guilt trip because they think their cars emit at least twice as much CO2 than they actually do, the AA has found.

More than half of drivers over-estimate their vehicles' contribution to global-warming, according to an AA Populus survey of 15,806 drivers1.

'Green' schemes

The AA believes that this may have made them an easy target for punitive council 'green' schemes that can not even measure how much CO2 they are supposed to be saving. The Department of Transport is due to publish a report on 'Attitudes to climate change and the impact of transport' on 26 February.

The reality is that passenger cars are producing less CO2 than a decade ago with a third more of them on the road. Passenger cars in the UK produce 12.4% of CO2 emissions in the UK2.

In the AA Populus Panel survey the average emissions to come from cars was estimated by the respondents to be 23.5%, which is almost twice the actual level.

Trucks and vans

CO2 emissions from trucks and vans produce 40% of road transport CO2 although they represent just 10% of vehicles.

More and more councils are now referring to worsening air quality measurements as a justification for targeting cars based on their CO2 emissions even though the councils do not measure CO2 in the air.

Richmond

The London Borough of Richmond has a residents parking scheme based on a vehicle's CO2 emissions and is considering extending such a scheme to other forms of parking charges. These proposals could result in "additional parking income and this has been estimated to be in the region of £800,000" according to the Council. The AA questions whether this policy is more about revenue than CO2.

Edinburgh

The City of Edinburgh Council "notes that other local authorities have introduced parking charges based on CO2" and is looking to jump on the bandwagon.

New car advice

The AA believes that motorists should consider the fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions when selecting a new car but does not believe that local authorities should slap an extra tax on car ownership which potentially hits larger families with people carriers or bigger cars.

Drive Smart

The AA also promotes eco-driving which can result in fuel savings (and hence CO2) of up to 20%. Indeed the AA Charitable Trust for Road Safety and the Environment is offering 2,000 free eco driving 'Drive Smart' training courses to new drivers within 12 months of passing their test who may be deemed a risk on the road.

New drivers wishing to register for the free training or parents who wish to register teenagers should go to www.theaa.com/drive-smart.

AA comment

Commenting, Edmund King, AA president, said: "Our research shows that motorists do care about the environment and do consider fuel efficiency when buying a car. However, there seems to be a 'green' band wagon that more councils are jumping on to penalise drivers based on their cars' CO2 emissions.

"In reality this is a green smokescreen to raise revenue which will do little to help the environment. The AA Charitable Trust is encouraging eco driving by offering free driver training and perhaps councils should be promoting such initiatives rather than penalising families who own larger vehicles."

Factfile

1AA Populus survey of 15,806 drivers conducted between 4 - 16 July 2008

2Transport Statistics Great Britain 2008, DFT

Air quality measurement in Richmond »

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25 February 2009