Climate solutions clarified by the U.N.

Each report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change finds stronger language to urge governments to action, the latest was published on 20th March declaring “a rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all.”

It is not at all doom and gloom. It draws on earlier reports that make clear the solutions that can reduce carbon emissions by half in the next 7 years to 2030.

One of its summary charts makes it clear that wind and solar energy can reduce carbon emissions much more than any other source. Nuclear power and carbon capture and storage each have just 10% of the potential of wind and solar, and at far higher cost (orange and red).

Switching to energy-efficient vehicles and public transport can cut emissions cheaply and significantly.

This chart comes from the IPCC report AR6-WPIII. There is more interpretation of it in this article by Damian Carrington.

The Bradford-Shipley Travel Alliance has joined an appeal to West Yorkshire Combined Authority to get its activities on track to meet its own reduced carbon emissions target. Individuals can sign up here. There will be a major rally outside the WYCA AGM in Leeds on 22nd June.

Bradford to revise road plan in 2023

Last year we posted the press news that the Bradford-Shipley Road Improvement Scheme was to be revised, scrapping road-widening. We also posted our plans to continue to champion residents’ concerns in favour of action on climate and clean air. Below is the full statement from Bradford Council about their decision to revise the road plans, sent by the engineer in charge of the scheme in an email to all Bradford District Councillors on 3rd November 2022.

The statement is very welcome. While triggered by a reduced budget hit by inflation, it allows the Council “the opportunity to update the scheme objectives to include new and emerging policy”, which we think must include the climate and air quality policies that West Yorkshire Councils have adopted since the scheme was originally proposed.

Of great importance is the commitment to create new options in the form of an Outline Business Case, which must include further consultation on the shape of the scheme. The Travel Alliance has always argued for this. It is welcome that “the focus of the scheme will shift to bus and active travel improvements along the Manningham Lane Route”, and we will argue for frequent, fast and cheaper public transport to provide an attractive alternative to more car journeys. We don’t yet know what “localised measures to address congestion along the Canal Road Route and Otley Road”, may mean.

The Council’s aim to reduce carbon emissions demands less traffic overall, which would satisfy the aim of reduced congestion. How to reduce traffic overall is the big question. It demands national investment in alternatives as well as local schemes including the Active Travel Neighbourhoods that the Council has begun to introduce.

We have suggested to the Council that we discuss alternatives before waiting for their finished plan, to make best use of the thinking and consultation carried out by the Travel Alliance and our affiliates.

Here is the Council update:

Bradford Shipley Route Improvement Scheme Update

The City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council (CBMDC) in collaboration with West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) are keen to provide the following update on the Bradford Shipley Route Improvement Scheme (BSRIS).

CBMDC have been working diligently to control scheme costs in the context of recent and ongoing extreme inflation, however the council are now unfortunately no longer in a position to deliver all the essential elements of the previous preferred option as identified within the 2019 Outline Business Case within the available funding.

The early acknowledgement of this has created the opportunity to update the scheme objectives to include new and emerging policy; and use this to identify updated options for consideration which build upon the earlier development.

From this, it is expected that the focus of the scheme will shift to bus and active travel improvements along the Manningham Lane Route with localised measures to address congestion along the Canal Road Route and Otley Road.

This message is being made available in conjunction with the formalised agreement between CBMDC and WYCA to undertake a refined Outline Business case which considers the new objectives and options.  Following this agreement CBMDC will develop the proposals and plans for consultation which is expected within Autumn 2023.

Third anniversary of Bradford council’s declaration of a climate emergency policies – councillors must do much more

All West Yorkshire councils declared a climate emergency in the first half of 2019, starting with Bradford on 15th January and ending with West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) on June 27th 2019.

Although transport emissions were identified by WYCA in June 2020 as the main source of greenhouse gases, WYCA’s Transport Committee has not considered a single report on the issue since then. Transport emissions have not reduced at all in the past decade.

The expansion of traffic capacity planned for Bradford-Shipley must be reviewed; the investment could be used instead to encourage less pollution from transport, not more.  Current plans will generate considerably more air pollution through increased traffic volumes and congestion at bottlenecks.  Instances of respiratory illness amongst the vulnerable including children with developing lungs and the elderly with vulnerable lungs is evidenced in our local hospitals and GP surgeries across the whole Bradford area.

West Yorkshire campaigners have said in an open letter to each member of WYCA transport committee:

It is the responsibility of the WYCA Transport Committee to take the lead in facing up to this decarbonisation challenge, but our submission to you is that so far you have failed to discharge that responsibility.”

In December, Councillors in Bradford learned that the Bradford-Shipley road scheme has been amended, but no details of the amendments have been released. BSTA has always said that consultation must happen with full information about likely levels of traffic and air pollution. A change in the scheme will need approval. BSTA have asked what these changes are, and how they will be approved, and is waiting for a response. Bradford residents need the changes to prioritise the health of Bradford residents, and reduce greenhouse gases.

Tracy Brabin’s office looking both ways

It is useful to look both ways before crossing a road. But if you see traffic coming from two directions you may feel stuck. That seems to be the case in the reported words from West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin, whose office rejected pleas for a review of road-widening, saying “not all the road schemes would increase carbon emissions, adding that some included new cycle and walking facilities”.

Below we reproduce the letter that BSTA sent to Tracy Brabin yesterday. Her Office promises a reply within 15 working days.

8th September 2021

Dear Mayor Tracy Brabin

Congratulations on your election as Mayor, and on your and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s commitment to reduce traffic pollution to meet its net-zero carbon target. The Combined Authority ‘Carbon Emissions Reduction Pathways’ report in June 2020 highlights the need to treat greenhouse gas emissions as a budget that must reduce each year, and its carbon audits of road schemes will help to decide how to do this.

Time is not elastic in this matter. To put in no starker terms than the world’s scientists, immediate measures are needed for deep reductions in carbon emissions.

I was surprised to read then, that “Ms Brabin’s office told the Local Democracy Reporting Service … that not all the road schemes would increase carbon emissions, adding that some included new cycle and walking facilities.” Bradford T&A 5/9/2021

The Bradford-Shipley Travel Alliance brings together those concerned on health and climate grounds about WYCA’s proposed increase in traffic capacity of the route between Bradford and Shipley. The Alliance’s members now include over 200 individuals, and the local organisations of your own Labour Party as well as the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party. It includes Shipley Town Council, local environmental and community associations and many businesses.

The road scheme is part of the West Yorkshire Plus Transport Fund and devised in its current form in 2012. It envisages new cycle and walking facilities. But its main expenditure and aim of widening roads and increasing traffic capacity speaks to an age when increased traffic capacity was the main measure of success in economic prosperity. That perspective is no longer valid.

WYCA’s Carbon Emissions Reduction Pathways report investigates three scenarios to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2038. These differ according to how much is left to hoped-for but unknown solutions. Even the most optimistic of the three scenarios requires not only a large shift towards electric vehicles but a 21% reduction in car traffic. A major reduction in traffic capacity.

The final public consultation on the Bradford-Shipley Route Improvement Scheme is due early in 2022. All our members and member organisations have agreed to ask you not to proceed without evidence that shows how the intended benefits of the scheme will be guaranteed, and that these benefits must include reduced traffic and a switch from car to other forms of collective and healthy travel. The health of our children and adults is affected not only by the catastrophe if global warming is not stemmed quickly, but by the particulate and other emissions of traffic.

If the reporting is accurate, your office’s suggestion that new cycle and walking facilities are enough to meet the Combined Authority’s carbon emissions commitments should be withdrawn. Instead an auditing and review of all travel, as part of the carbon emissions reduction research, must be undertaken before this road scheme is developed further.

The Bradford-Shipley Travel Alliance is developing alternative uses of the £48m committed to the Bradford-Shipley scheme, uses which would reduce traffic flows and emissions and therefore improve the travel of all types, including by car.

We would appreciate meeting you in order to explore these options with you.

Best wishes,

Ludi Simpson, Secretary Bradford-Shipley Travel Alliance, www.bsta.org.uk

Bradford-Shipley traffic scheme: new release of (old) information

West Yorkshire Combined Authority have finally released to us the ‘Benefits Realisation Strategy and Monitoring Plan’ prepared for their traffic scheme between Bradford and Shipley in 2019. Although all the scheme details have been hidden and made unreadable, the list of aims and intended monitoring sadly reveals a lack of ambition on making a shift to traffic patterns that health and climate improvements demand.

The document claims to “summarise the principal scheme objectives and related benefits, the proposed interventions, opportunities to maximise and lock-in the benefits, their measurement and ownership” (p3).

The main objectives declared for the scheme (Table 3) are as follows:

  • “Increased capacity to a level which can accommodate the predicted demand from the residential and employment growth around the corridor
  • Reduce congestion and improve journey time reliability
  • Improve safety… with a particular focus on pedestrians and cyclists
  • To support … a modal shift from private cars
  • To improve air quality and environmental impacts”

While welcoming the aims of safety and improved air quality, it is fair to ask how will the aims be achieved? Though every measure is blacked out, the ways of monitoring the impact of the scheme are listed.

An initial concern is that the aims are not reflected in the ways the expected benefits will be measured (Table 4):

  • ‘Increased capacity’ has no quantitative target, simply ‘widened highway’.
  • ‘Modal shift from private cars’ has no target at all. Measurements will be made to reveal if there has been a change in walking, cycling and public transport, but no measurement or target of a shift to these away from private cars. WYCA has an aim from its climate emergency policy to reduce car journeys by between 21% and 38%, but there is no whiff of that realism here. 

Bradford Council officers, who develop and implement the scheme on behalf of WYCA, have said that the objectives themselves are being further developed (Ref 16 in their June 2021 response to the Shipley Labour Party’s review of the scheme). It can only be hoped that the concerns of residents and Councillors will be taken on board. It would be better if we could have a conversation rather than rely on hope. Just for confirmation, Bradford-Shipley Travel Alliance is not party political and has support from community and environmental organisations as well as from several local branches of different political parties.

The reason given by WYCA for hiding or ‘redacting’ the details is:

“Redactions have been made to information specific to the scheme itself that is still under development. The data / information is changing frequently as options are developed, assessed and refined and it is therefore not appropriate to share these at this time. Evidence summarising the Full Business Case will be provided through further consultations and other statutory processes such as Planning Approval. … We are committed to openness and transparency however we also need to ensure the integrity of the development process is protected.”

It seems clear that WYCA and Bradford Highways do not at present intend to collaborate with residents, schools and businesses affected by the scheme. Currently, it appears they intend to consult only on a finished scheme, “the Full Business Case”, not gaining residents’ inputs to the formulation of the scheme. It is our intention to intervene to change that process and influence the plans to make them better for health and climate.