Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Rail Freight Group Supports Climate Committee Condemnation of UK Government

RFG Wants More Support for Trains
Shipping News Feature

UK - The Rail Freight Group (RFG) has joined the chairman of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), Lord Turner, in condemning the Government’s lack of progress in reducing carbon emissions. The CCC’s most recent progress report has highlighted failings in what the RFG describes as any real movement in CO2 reduction.

The British Government is legally committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and there is an average 3% reduction in total outputs required each year to meet the first four carbon budgets. The CCC’s report states that emissions in 2010 were only within the limits of the first carbon budget due to the impact that the recession had in 2009, which reduced overall emissions by 9%.

In the report Lord Turner says that: “The step change that we have previously highlighted has not yet been achieved.”

The RFG believes that greater support for the rail freight industry could play a major part in the UK meeting its emission commitments and has been vocally disappointed by what it sees as diminished support from the government for rail logistics and raised support for road haulage – a transportation method the RFG argues is more polluting – particularly after recent discussions on changing the law so as to allow longer trailers on trucks.

In response to the Report, RFG Policy Manager Maggie Simpson said:

“The Government’s commitments to reducing carbon emissions across the UK are legally binding and so far little has been achieved. Ministers have publicly acknowledged the vital role that rail freight will play in reducing carbon emissions but some recent policies act against rail freight growth.

“This has been no clearer than the consultation on longer lorries, which while their environmental benefits are still largely unproven, have the potential to badly affect the rail freight sector, which has proven its credentials time after time.”

The RFG has also criticized proposals by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to make it mandatory for companies to report their greenhouse gas emissions as part of their annual reporting. However, the lack of actual requirement to reduce emissions has caused the RFG to question the purpose of the proposal.

"We support measures which help companies to understand and reduce their carbon emissions, but adding additional regulation is unlikely to achieve this, absent other initiatives. We therefore urge DEFRA to focus on strengthening voluntary reporting, and work with other departments such as DfT on encouraging modal shift and a greater use of rail,” Maggie Simpson said.