from Sunday Herald, 03 February 2013
Scotland must end its love affair with the car. That is the blunt message from leading experts in the face of mounting evidence of the havoc wreaked on the climate and communities by the internal combustion engine.
The Sunday Herald reveals today that fumes from car exhausts are poisoning the air in cities and towns across the land, leading to thousands of premature deaths. The noise from vehicle engines is also blighting the lives of nearly a million people, while high speed limits are boosting pollution and accidents.
According to Professor James Curran, the chief executive of the government’s Scottish Environment Protection Agency, pollution from transport is also one of the major causes of climate change. “In my view this is the greatest threat faced by humankind so we’ve got to do something about it,” he said.
“If you do need to travel, try walking, cycling or public transport, all of which have lower emissions than cars. If you really have to drive, try car-sharing, choose the cleanest car you can, and drive it as economically as you can.”
He told the Sunday Herald that he was a realist. “I know that weaning people off their cars isn't easy,” he said. “But we must get serious about dealing with climate change, and meeting our national target of a 42% reduction in carbon emissions by 2020.”
Curran was backed by Green MSPs and environment campaigners, who have attacked the Scottish government for failing to tackle transport in its plans to cut climate pollution, published last week.
“Our love affair with the car has blighted communities and contributed to ill health,” said the new director of WWF Scotland, Lang Banks. “We need to see a stepping up in both policies and coordination by government if we are to really enable more people to get out from behind the wheel.”
The Scottish government, however, pointed out that it was investing more than £1 billion per year to encourage people out of their cars. “This is a long-term delivery agenda to reflect the fact that changes steadily take effect within society over time,” said a government spokesman.