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UK News

Greens urge review of net-zero strategy after pandemic shows ‘alternative future’


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The co-leader of the Green Party has told Sky News there should be a review of the government’s net-zero transport strategy in the wake of the pandemic.

Jonathan Bartley says society has had a “glimpse” of an “alternative future” having spent months in lockdowns using fewer emissions and travelling less.

Decarbonising transport is critical to reaching the UK’s legally-binding target of generating net-zero emissions by 2050 to help tackle climate change.

Jonathan Bartley says the pandemic 'should put the whole government transport policy in doubt'
Image: Jonathan Bartley says the pandemic has pointed to ‘a better future’ for transport

And Mr Bartley said the COVID-19 crisis makes the case for Britain’s biggest infrastructure project – the new HS2 high speed rail network – “even weaker”.

He said: “I think the pandemic should put the whole government transport policy in doubt.

“When you look at the £27bn road building programme and when you look at the freeze on fuel duty, these are things we should be really questioning in the light of the pandemic, as well as HS2.

“I think there’s a glimpse of an alternative future – a better future that we can have.

More from Green Party

“And we know – and the public are very aware – that we’re going to have to live with COVID for a while.

Workers preparing the tunnel entrance at the HS2 construction site in Chiltern, Buckinghamshire
Image: The first phase of HS2 is due to open between 2029 and 2033
Police enforcement officers move in to the encampment in Euston Square Gardens in central London, where HS2 Rebellion protesters have built a 100ft tunnel network, which they are ready to occupy, after claiming the garden is at risk from the HS2 line development. Picture date: Wednesday January 27, 2021.
Image: Some people have recently protested in London over the building of the line

“There may be future pandemics coming down the line because of our exploitation of nature, so what we need to focus on is resilient local economies.”

The new high speed rail line will eventually link London and the north of England and the first phase of HS2 between London and Birmingham is due to open between 2029 and 2033.

The government is telling us to switch to public transport to cut emissions and is backing HS2, but the network’s environmental benefits and the impact of building it are hotly disputed.

Officially, the Green Party is against HS2, believing it’s not needed.

But even within the green movement there are divisions about the best way to net zero.

Some members believe rail decarbonisation has to be part of the UK’s climate solutions.

Sam Easterby-Smith is part of a Greens group that backs HS2
Image: Sam Easterby-Smith is part of a Greens group that backs HS2

Sam Easterby-Smith has been a member of the Green Party for five years and is standing in local elections in Manchester later this year.

He is part of a small group which calls itself Greens For HS2 and describes labelling HS2 as “ecocide” as “really unhelpful”.

He said: “Greens For HS2 are worried that the argument against HS2 is distracting from where our real problems lie, and those are in road building and aviation. We need green infrastructure far more than we need new roads.

“We need to look at the practical steps that we can take to really affect change.”

 Sky News

© Sky News 2021

Written by: Rother Radio News

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