When restrictions were placed on public transport earlier this the year, we saw a huge increase in the number of people walking and cycling. Bike sales soared and cars were largely parked up with nowhere to go.
Air quality in our towns and cities improved as a result of reduced traffic and we were able to see the carbon reductions that are actually possible through modal shift.
Governments around the world have been grappling with climate change and how they can play their part in reducing carbon emissions. Here in Wales, the Government has announced a climate emergency and yet we are still waiting for the serious action that tackling this crisis requires.
This weekend marks the 5th anniversary of the Paris Agreement which aims to strengthen the global response to climate change and bring all nations together to tackle climate change and adapt to its effects.
This anniversary comes at a time when the Welsh Government is consulting on a draft transport strategy. As a coalition, Transform Cymru has worked hard to influence this strategy to ensure it is focused on sustainable and inclusive transport and we are pleased that our efforts have made a difference.
We do, however, think that the Welsh Government could ensure action on climate change by taking a stronger position on road building. Llwybr Newydd – A New Path – needs to provide a new direction, being more ambitious in plans for modal shift and taking a stand against the building of new roads.
The strategy needs to be explicit in its approach to refocus priorities by ensuring budgets are spent only on existing highways and not new ones. It should also recognise that electric cars are not the answer. A transport strategy for the future needs to be honest and recognise that energy production is also in the top three highest emitting sectors in Wales. If we simply switch from petrol and diesel cars to electric, the problem will only shift elsewhere instead of providing the solution.
‘Path’ is the right word really because not only is it about direction but paths often run through green and blue space. We should remember this as we consider turning more of our green space into grey and instead focus on connecting people through truly sustainable means.