Temperature records were shattered last week in North America, with hundreds of excess deaths attributed to heat stress.

Our planet hasn’t seen temperatures this high since fifteen million years ago, when the sea level was 40 metres higher than it is today, and forests covered the poles.

Responsible scientists have long argued that we need to cut greenhouse gas emissions drastically to prevent the worst impacts of global heating.

Instead of heeding their calls, politicians have mostly delayed taking action; preferring to stick to business-as-usual and hoping that new technology will get us out of the mess with minimal if any lifestyle changes.

Every year the Climate Change Committee (CCC) reports on the UK’s efforts to decarbonise the economy.

Saying last month that progress is “illusory”, they commented for the first time on road building:  “investment in roads should be contingent on analysis justifying how they contribute to the UK’s pathway to net zero”. 

Our council is to be applauded for pre-empting this advice from the CCC when it cancelled the western Hereford bypass citing concerns about the climate impacts.

Unfortunately not all councillors have yet made the connection between road building and climate change even though they supported the declaration of a climate emergency in March 2019.

The CCC advice means proposals for new roads now must demonstrate how they would lead to a reduction in emissions.

As the Welsh Government said when announcing a moratorium on road building last month: “We need a shift away from spending money on projects that encourage more people to drive, and spend more money on maintaining our roads and investing in real alternatives that give people a meaningful choice.” 

Robert Palgrave 

How Caple

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