The much-awaited independent West Yorkshire Combined Authority Carbon Impact Assessment report, undertaken for WYCA, has just been released to the public and is due to be considered by the WYCA committee this Friday 22 July. The report has found that the WYCA transport capital schemes could actually increase carbon emissions and that ‘current investment programmes contribute little to tackling the climate emergency’[p31]. The report is published as West Yorkshire reels from the impact of the recent severe heatwave, an occurrence likely to become more intense due to climate change*.
Campaigners from Friends of the Earth groups across West Yorkshire say the report confirms their concerns that WYCA’s proposed £1 billion+ transport capital expenditure plan is being allocated without being aligned with WYCA’s own climate emergency decarbonisation commitments.
- Overall the 30 transport projects reviewed by the study are estimated to increase carbon emissions over the appraisal period by 45,000 tonnes of CO2, at a time when West Yorkshire transport emissions must reduce by up to 3 million tonnes by 2030. [p21]
- The report found that WYCA’s proposed transport capital schemes do not actively help to reduce carbon emissions: ‘When put in the context of West Yorkshire total carbon emissions, the combined impact of these proposals on carbon emissions is minimal and does not materially change the direction of travel’. [p31]
- The report also identified the difficulties involved in assessing the carbon emissions that could be generated by capital schemes and weaknesses in the modelling of projects already approved, including their potential to generate new road traffic. The independent study concludes that there is ‘an urgent need to improve the carbon assessment and reporting of the projects progressing through the combined authority’s assurance process’.[p26]
Campaigners from West Yorkshire Friends of the Earth groups, therefore, urge WYCA to halt all transport capital schemes that induce more traffic until an urgent review is undertaken of WYCA’s strategic approach to transport decarbonisation as a critical part of its overall Carbon Emissions Reductions Pathway
Anthony Rae for Calderdale Friends of the Earth said:
“This new report shows that the current approach to investing hundreds of millions of pounds by the WY Transport Fund is unsustainable and is not delivering the reduction of carbon emissions required.
On Friday the Combined Authority must take action. It needs to review its entire strategic approach to transport decarbonisation, because it cannot continue to approve new capital schemes unless it can be certain that they are actually contributing to radical carbon reductions.”
Simon Bowens from Friends of the Earth said:
“Extreme heatwaves and health alerts like we’ve experienced this week are likely to become more frequent and more severe as climate change takes hold. If we want to avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis, we must accelerate plans to slash the carbon emissions that are heating up our planet.
There is not a moment to lose. WYCA needs to seriously overhaul its £1 billion+ transport capital expenditure plan to ensure it substantially contributes to the region’s decarbonisation.”