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Call to ban new roads to fight ‘climate change’ – Bye-bye roads to achieve ‘net-zero’ targets

By Steffan Messenger
BBC News

A ban on new roads, gas power plants and incinerators is needed if Wales is to play a leading role in tackling climate change, a report has said.

Friends of the Earth Cymru (FOEC) also wants to see an end to subsidised flights between Cardiff and Anglesey.

The charity’s Climate Action Plan said the Welsh government must outline steps for “much deeper and faster” cuts to greenhouse gas emissions.

The Welsh government said it welcomed the report.

FOEC said the Welsh government’s plans were not consistent with its goal for a “globally responsible Wales”.

The charity’s report, seen exclusively by BBC Wales, said ministers should set out to achieve effectively a 100% cut in climate warming gases – known as a net zero target – well before 2045.

To achieve the goal, it wants the government to set a rule for it not to invest in or give permission for any high carbon infrastructure such as new roads, gas power plants or incinerators.

The use of fossil fuel energy should be banned with immediate effect for all new homes and public bodies told to divest their pension schemes from firms involved in coal, oil and gas.

The report also suggested the financial support given to provide north-south flights within Wales is “clearly out of step with climate change goals”.

It wants to see funding to prepare for the effects of climate change – such as flooding – targeted at deprived communities.

Adequate green space should also be provided within five minutes walking distance of every home – with car parks repurposed and roads closed to achieve this.

Haf Elgar, FOEC director, said: “Wales is at a critical crossroads in its history and needs to address multiple emergencies right now – Covid-19 recovery, the climate and ecological emergencies and ongoing inequalities in our nation.

“We urgently need to set targets that are in line with the international Paris agreement so that we don’t go over 1.5 degrees of global warming.

“Wales has historically been a big polluter and produced a lot of emissions and we need to do our fair share now and reduce our emissions very quickly.”

But Stuart Cole, emeritus professor of transport at the University of South Wales, said some of the report’s proposals went too far: “Underlying any economy is a very efficient transport system and unfortunately that does have some environmental disadvantages from time to time.

“But I think we’ve seen a reasonable balance with the Welsh government in cancelling the M4 relief road which was going to be an environment disaster in the Gwent Levels, and spending £800m on a new electrified train services from the valleys into Cardiff.”

A Welsh government spokesman said: “We have recently published our engagement plan inviting citizens and organisations to shape the next all-Wales plan for reducing Wales’ emissions.