Fleet News

Government needs to act to reduce car use

The Government received a stark reminder that it needs to improve public transport if it is to achieve its target of cutting CO2 emissions from cars.

According to a recent Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) survey, over 50% of motorists said they would like to reduce their car use but said there are no practical alternatives available to allow them to do so.

However, highlighting just how far there is still to go in influencing changes in car use, while the majority of motorists said they wanted to reduce their car use, half of the respondents said: “When I get ready to go out, I usually don’t think about how I am going to travel, I just get in the car.”

Changing this attitude that car use can continue without questioning the need for each journey is a major challenge for the Government.

Environment Minister Joan Ruddock, said: “We all need to do our bit to tackle climate change.

"Most people want to do something but sometimes don’t know how.

"This report will help Government and stakeholders reach people and empower them to make changes in their lives today that will make a big difference tomorrow.”

The report identified 12 ‘headline behaviour goals’ including the use of more efficient vehicles and encouraging people to use their car less.

However, when met with figures such as 55% of people saying it would be hard for them to reduce their car use – a figure that rises to 66% in rural areas - Defra has a challenge ahead.

Especially when there was a fairly even split of opinion over the statement "It is important to build more roads to reduce congestion" with 39% of respondents agreeing, and 37% disagreeing.

Men aged 16 to 29, and men aged 65 or over were more likely to agree with this statement.

A quarter of respondents also agreed that "For the sake of the environment, car users should pay higher taxes" although only 8% strongly agreed.

A greater proportion disagreed, with over 25% strongly disagreeing.

The report concluded that the more challenging behaviours, such as avoiding unnecessary flights or reducing car use in rural areas, are those where there is relatively low willingness to act.

For this to change, Government and local authorities need to provide viable alternatives to car use.

As Stephen Hale, director of the Green Alliance, said: “2008 can be a landmark year for Government action to help every one of us reduce our environmental impact. Government has a critical role in enabling us to act.”

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