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Rishi Sunak is “on the side” of drivers – What happened to Britain’s “golden age for cycling”? Plus THAT cargo bike parking row on the road.cc Podcast

We discuss what the Prime Minister’s pro-car agenda could mean for active travel in the UK, while a Bristol family ask why their cargo bike is deemed by the council to be less important than a car parking space…

Last weekend, just in case you were doing your best to avoid the news, Rishi Sunak promised the UK’s motorists that he was “on their side”, as the Prime Minister ordered a review of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods in England.

 

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The review – which led Cycling UK to accuse the Prime Minister of using LTNs as a “political football” – comes as the debate over green active travel policies continues to sharpen in the wake of the Conservative Party’s win at the recent Uxbridge and South Ruislip by-election (called following the departure of the famously active travel-friendly PM Boris Johnson), a narrow victory credited to the Tory opposition to Labour mayor Sadiq Khan’s plans to extend London’s Ultra-Low Emission Zone.

Railton LTN (picture credit TfL)

> Rishi Sunak accused of seeking to exploit division over LTNs as he orders review of schemes

Sunak’s opposition to ULEZ and LTNs, the latest strategic manoeuvre in the pre-general election battleground, isn’t the only move away from the green active travel policies held by his party in recent years, with the Prime Minister recently hinting at plans to push back the date that sales of new petrol and diesel-powered cars will be banned, while funding for cycling infrastructure – including the new government body Active Travel England – has also taken a hit during his tenure in charge.

> Whose ULEZ is it anyway? Political chicanery as clean air zone set to expand to outer London

In the second part of the latest episode of the road.cc Podcast, Jack, Simon, and Ryan sit round the table to discuss what Sunak’s latest pro-driver pledges mean for the next general election, how they represent a shift away from past Conservative policy on cycling, active travel, and climate change (led by Johnson), and what impact they could have on the future landscape of cycling in the UK.

DIY bike parking space in Bristol (credit: Anna Cordle)

> “The road is yours only if you own a car?”: Cyclist couple challenge council after being asked to remove DIY bike parking space from outside home

But before we get to all that political chicanery, in part one of this episode Ryan chats with Bristol couple Anna and Mark Cordle, who recently made the headlines after they set up a parking space for their family cargo bike outside their home – which, a year after it was installed, has been the subject of threats by the local council to remove it… because it was taking up a car parking space.

In a really interesting discussion which touches on the differing perceptions and treatment of people who ride bikes to get around compared to those who use cars, Anna and Mark detail the reasons why they needed the space for their young family, how it was greeted by their neighbours, their current struggle against the council, and why planter-based bike parking spaces may provide an organic, cost-effective way forward for active travel in the UK’s cities.

As outlined in our original article, Bristol City Council is standing firm in its reasons for asking Anna and Mark to remove the heavy planters, claiming that placing them on the road is in breach of Section 149 of the Highways Act, and that they would be liable "if any person has an accident has a result of [your] planters being on the highway." 

Are DIY cargo bike parking spaces the way to go, and if not, what are the alternatives? Anna notes during the discussion that she won’t be holding her breath for a dramatic policy shift just yet…

The road.cc Podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Amazon Music, and if you have an Alexa you can just tell it to play the road.cc Podcast. It’s also embedded further up the page, so you can just press play.

At the time of broadcast, our listeners can also get a free Hammerhead Heart Rate Monitor with the purchase of a Hammerhead Karoo 2. Visit hammerhead.io right now and use promo code ROADCC at checkout to get yours.

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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Rich_cb replied to hawkinspeter | 8 months ago
1 like

Remind me of the carbon footprint of domestically produced oil/gas Vs imported oil/gas?

It may seem counterintuitive but if you want to reduce carbon emissions then using our own resources is a good way to do that.

The added bonus of strengthening our own economy and funding our own public services shouldn't be discounted either.

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Rendel Harris replied to Rich_cb | 8 months ago
8 likes

Remind me of how much domestically produced oil and gas will be sold in the UK and not exported to the highest bidder? Remind me of the number of clauses in the new oil and gas contracts that mandate their oil and gas being sold in the UK (clue, it's lower than one)?

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hawkinspeter replied to Rich_cb | 8 months ago
7 likes

Rich_cb wrote:

Remind me of the carbon footprint of domestically produced oil/gas Vs imported oil/gas? It may seem counterintuitive but if you want to reduce carbon emissions then using our own resources is a good way to do that. The added bonus of strengthening our own economy and funding our own public services shouldn't be discounted either.

Norway oil and gas has a smaller CO2 footprint than UK produced due to gas flaring etc. Similarly, most other imported fossil fuels are generally a better choice than using the porrly managed North Sea oil rigs.

However, you're looking at one particular aspect and ignoring the most important fact that leaving oil where it is has a monumentally smaller CO2 footprint (zero) than looking for and digging new supplies out of the ground. I can't believe how stupid you must be to argue about the minor differences between where we get the last bits of oil from vs continuing to destroy the climate.

You should be ashamed of yourself.

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Rich_cb replied to hawkinspeter | 8 months ago
1 like

The difference in carbon emissions between domestically produced gas and Liquified Natural Gas is absolutely enormous.

That's an easily verifiable fact that you cannot deny.

The line that "most other imported fossil fuels are a better choice" is disingenuous in the extreme. LNG has a terrible carbon footprint and we are importing enormous quantities of it.

You seem to labour under the assumption that if we don't open a new gas field then nobody else will either so by refusing to open our gas fields the total amount of gas produced between now and 2050 will somehow reduce.

That's a completely flawed assumption. OPEC and other major gas producers will continue to drill until there's no more demand. Any gas we don't drill will simply be drilled elsewhere.

There is therefore zero benefit to keeping UK gas fields closed. If we open them we will reduce global carbon emissions and make sure less money ends up in the hands of Putin, MBS and other unsavoury autocrats.

You are supporting a policy that worsens carbon emissions and helps fund atrocities.

Are you sure I'm the one who should be ashamed?

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Rendel Harris replied to Rich_cb | 8 months ago
5 likes

Rich_cb wrote:

The difference in carbon emissions between domestically produced gas and Liquified Natural Gas is absolutely enormous. That's an easily verifiable fact that you cannot deny. The line that "most other imported fossil fuels are a better choice" is disingenuous in the extreme. LNG has a terrible carbon footprint and we are importing enormous quantities of it.

You've omitted to mention, I'm sure it's simply an oversight and not you cherrypicking, that the majority of gas imported by the UK isn't LNG but gaseous via pipeline.

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Rich_cb replied to Rendel Harris | 8 months ago
1 like

The shortfall from Russian gas supply curtailment is being made up by increased LNG imports to Europe.

These are much more expensive than both piped gas imports and domestic production so it is the LNG that will be directly displaced by UK production. Pipeline imports will be unaffected.

The correct comparison is therefore between UK production and the product it will be displacing which is LNG.

Not cherry picking, just accuracy.

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Rendel Harris replied to Rich_cb | 8 months ago
8 likes

Ah I see, your statements were not based on the actual facts at present (which is that 55% of the UK's imported gas comes via pipeline) but what you predict will happen in future (the LNG/pipeline balance has remained pretty much the same as prewar by the way, due to increased imports from Norway). I'm sure failing to mention that was just another of your little oversights.

By the way, as you are so keen on domestic natural gas, has it ever occurred to you to ask why 40% of our current domestic production is exported and why that should be any different under the new licences? If new production is designed to provide energy security, why don't we start by not exporting nearly half what we produce? It's almost as if the system is set up to benefit huge multinationals that sell their product to the highest bidder and the whole spiel about energy security is a red herring. Once again, if the new licences are designed to increase our domestic gas use and make us secure against the vagaries of foreign imports, why are there no restrictions on the companies granted said licences compelling them to sell to the UK? As it stands if they want to convert all they produce to LNG and sell it to the Far East, absolutely nothing to stop them.

 

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hawkinspeter replied to Rendel Harris | 8 months ago
4 likes

Rendel Harris wrote:

By the way, as you are so keen on domestic natural gas, has it ever occurred to you to ask why 40% of our current domestic production is exported and why that should be any different under the new licences?

Exactly. The new licences are for the oil and gas to be sold on the international markets - they're purely for profit and to keep the oil industries going as long as possible.

Quote:

Rishi Sunak and his fossil fuel backers are taking us all for fools. Most people in this country know that oil is over. They know that carbon capture is greenwash. Only Sunak and the Tories have failed to get the message. Addicted to power and illegal donations from the fossil fuel industry they are shamelessly stoking culture wars and spinning endless lies to keep themselves in power. 

But it is much, much worse than that. July was the hottest month ever because of burning fossil fuels. We can all see that something is desperately wrong when tens of thousands of panicking holidaymakers rush to Rhodes beaches to escape wildfires, Americans have suffered second degree burns from scorching pavements and European wheat crops are burning to a crisp. 

Every new oil and gas license makes it harder for the world to reach net-zero emissions and to stop global heating. Every delay in stopping global heating means worse climate impacts and more suffering. 

Sunak is worse than a war criminal. He knows new oil and gas will impose unimaginable suffering and destroy the lives and livelihoods of billions of people. He knows that it will push the world past irreversible tipping points, meaning that the consequences and suffering will echo for centuries. He is risking nothing less than the collapse of human civilization. What will his obvious lies about “energy security” mean, when you can’t grow food, when violence stalks the streets, when everything you know and love is destroyed?

Licensing new oil and gas, in full knowledge of these consequences, isn’t just a crime against humanity. It is the greatest crime in human history.

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Rich_cb replied to Rendel Harris | 8 months ago
0 likes

LNG use in Europe has remained the same as prewar?

Reality would like a word.

Domestic UK gas production will displace LNG imports either to the UK or Europe.

LNG is much more expensive to produce than domestic gas or pipeline imports so it's not exactly Mystic Meg territory to predict that it will be displaced first.

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lonpfrb replied to Rich_cb | 8 months ago
1 like
Rich_cb wrote:

LNG use in Europe has remained the same as prewar?

Reality would like a word.

Domestic UK gas production will displace LNG imports either to the UK or Europe.

LNG is much more expensive to produce than domestic gas or pipeline imports so it's not exactly Mystic Meg territory to predict that it will be displaced first.

Interesting data but worth being aware that Germany is reacting to the NordStream 1/2 closure by building several LNG ports to replace it.
So Germany will soon come out of the Other group to be a large consumer for LNG.
They believe that energy security demands it, and given their position on Nuclear, seem to be failing on carbon neutral.
Experimental Sustainable Auto Fuel in Peru is not going to replace Hydrocarbons on das Autobahn any time soon..

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hawkinspeter replied to Rich_cb | 8 months ago
7 likes

The difference between leaving oil in the ground and burning it is what you need to be looking at. You cherry pick figures to find any possible way to justify burning yet more oil when the very clear message is that the world must not develop new oil sources if we have any chance of keeping the climate catastrophe within reasonable bounds.

You would sell all our future for the continued profit of oil companies. You actually revolt me with your attitude.

Meanwhile https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/aug/05/uk-offshore-wind-at-tipping-point-as-funding-crisis-threatens-industry

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Rich_cb replied to hawkinspeter | 8 months ago
1 like

You're not addressing the obvious flaw in your argument.

If we don't extract the oil/gas here it will just be extracted elsewhere instead.

Those extractions elsewhere will have much higher emissions so out carbon emissions will be higher overall.

LNG has nearly 4 times the carbon emissions of domestically produced gas. Even if it took 3 litres of domestic gas production just to displace one litre of LNG production we'd still be better off from a carbon perspective.

We can't afford to just pretend that emissions outside the UK don't matter.

I'm sure your intentions are good but supporting the ban on UK drilling is causing massive environmental harm.

You can throw insults all you like but the numbers speak for themselves.

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hawkinspeter replied to Rich_cb | 8 months ago
4 likes

I'm not going to argue with someone who is obviously just repeating cherry-picked data and ignoring the effect of burning the fuel rather than just the production details.

As with Brexit, you're on the wrong side of history.

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Rich_cb replied to hawkinspeter | 8 months ago
1 like

Get your head out of the tar sands.

You cannot justify using a fuel with 4x the carbon emissions of an available alternative.

You haven't presented a single scrap of evidence that reducing UK production will lead to a drop in global production.

Given that that is what your entire argument hinges upon I'd suggest you try and find some evidence to back your point up before resorting to insults and flouncing off.

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levestane replied to Rich_cb | 8 months ago
2 likes

Rich_cb wrote:

You can throw insults all you like but the numbers speak for themselves.

Absolutely. Some numbers that spring to mind are 8.1 billion, 20.96°C, 2.4 million km^2, 420 ppm, etc., etc. In many ways it would be best for humans to extract and burn all fossil fuels in the hope that humans are one of the species that go extinct. In the absence of the extinction driver biodiversity will then flourish.  Second best is to radically reduce ecological footprint (of which carbon footprint is a part) in a socially just way and hope to avoid uncontrolled population crash. Still, the football is back!

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Rich_cb replied to levestane | 8 months ago
3 likes

I completely agree that climate change is a pressing emergency.

I'm advocating the use of a fuel with 25% of the carbon emissions of the fuel it will replace.

For some reason my position is being presented as environmentally destructive whilst those folks who support using the fuel with 4x the carbon emissions shroud themselves in virtue.

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Simon E replied to hawkinspeter | 8 months ago
5 likes

hawkinspeter wrote:

You cherry pick figures to find any possible way to justify burning yet more oil when the very clear message is that the world must not develop new oil sources if we have any chance of keeping the climate catastrophe within reasonable bounds.

This is Rich's modus operandi in any discussion - find a graph or some numbers and (thankfully politely) try to justify his position.

I guess we all do it to some extent, seeing something that matches our view, but this is part of a concerted effort to repeatedly deny that we need to do something drastic about climate change. No, it's all going to be fine because he's found some chart somewhere (Tufton Street?) contradicts the conclusions of virtually every expert scientist across the entire globe.

Perhaps we could get some drivers' position on ULEZ to alter if every car had 50% of the exhaust emissions piped into the vehicle.

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Rich_cb replied to Simon E | 8 months ago
2 likes

Another one with his head in the Tar Sands.

LNG has 4x the carbon emissions of domestically produced gas.

That's an established fact.

I've yet to read a single person actually address that, let alone justify using such a polluting fuel.

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Simon E replied to Rich_cb | 8 months ago
9 likes

Rich_cb wrote:

Another one with his head in the Tar Sands.

No, that's you fella, with your climate denial, Brexit denial, head in de Nile.

No point blaming me when you and all the pro-Tory, pro-road building, pro-fossil fuel, pro-big polluters in the right wing media want to demonise environmental groups, protestors and anyone challenging the status quo, even to the extent of passing laws to prevent people having a voice with voter supressions, clamping down on protests.

Many people wanted to see the UK to move towards renewables, insulation, cleaner air, a greener economy etc decades ago but the self-interest and refusal among so many in government, their donors and friends to even acknowledge the scale of the problem, let alone start to address it, is making things so much worse. 

YOU and all those deeply selfish people who continue to vote Tory/UKIP/selfishcuntparty are the problem - and it's a very, very serious problem, not just for the UK but globally.

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chrisonabike replied to Simon E | 8 months ago
2 likes

I also suspect it makes more sense to leave the fossil fuels where they are - but I've not done the economics or thermodynamics (though I'm still skeptical of human carbon capture efforts).

If making it personal IIRC rich_cb has at least made their heating more efficient via heat-pump.

You allude to all the people who'd like to see more concern for environment. I think there's some truth there but people have limited appetite for change. Especially the kind that means things don't stay the same for *them*!

Knowing that governments of all parties ("decades") have acted pretty similarly. Our leaders / salesmen certainly have power and influence (it's their raison d'etre) eg. ushering in mass motoring. Individual humans do tend to choose "cake today, pay tomorrow" though...

What is the (negative) feedback which will limit the appetite of n+1 humans for using n+1 resources? What mechanism arbitrates "they have one - I want / need one too?"

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Rich_cb replied to Simon E | 8 months ago
1 like

So the fuel with the carbon footprint 4x as large is the climate friendly choice?

Oil from the tar sands and gas shipped from Australia are the choice of any respectable person who cares about the planet...

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hawkinspeter replied to Simon E | 8 months ago
2 likes

Simon E wrote:

This is Rich's modus operandi in any discussion - find a graph or some numbers and (thankfully politely) try to justify his position.

I guess we all do it to some extent, seeing something that matches our view, but this is part of a concerted effort to repeatedly deny that we need to do something drastic about climate change. No, it's all going to be fine because he's found some chart somewhere (Tufton Street?) contradicts the conclusions of virtually every expert scientist across the entire globe.

Perhaps we could get some drivers' position on ULEZ to alter if every car had 50% of the exhaust emissions piped into the vehicle.

It's like re-arranging deck-chairs on the titanic - trying to justify digging more oil out of the ground, despite the very clear IPCC guidance. When all the global climate experts are very clear that we must not drill for any more oil, we get armchair experts like Rich_cb trying to persuade us that in fact he knows best and that Sunak has the climate at heart. This is despite the very obvious signs that he has no moral objections to selling us all under the bus as long as he can continue getting Tory donations from oil companies.

 

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Rich_cb replied to hawkinspeter | 8 months ago
2 likes

Yet you still won't address the point I'm making.

Marginal oil production (eg Tar Sands) is incredibly carbon intensive. LNG gas is incredibly carbon intensive.

New oil/gas exploration that displaces those forms of production will be climate positive.

The chart below shows the carbon intensity of tar sands oil (on the right) compared to conventional oil fields.

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Simon E replied to Rich_cb | 8 months ago
3 likes

Rich_cb wrote:

New oil/gas exploration that displaces those forms of production will be climate positive.

Enough said.

You carry on pushing your fossil fuel agenda, drill, drill, drill. That will definitely get us out of trouble.

At least the man in 10 Downing Street shares your interest (and investments?) so I guess we're all in this mess together.

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hawkinspeter replied to Simon E | 8 months ago
1 like

Simon E wrote:

Enough said.

You carry on pushing your fossil fuel agenda, drill, drill, drill. That will definitely get us out of trouble.

At least the man in 10 Downing Street shares your interest (and investments?) so I guess we're all in this mess together.

The fallacy is that by drilling for new oil, that there'll be a reduction in other oil production, but that's not likely at all. What's far more likely to happen is that existing oil production will continue (it's making people money after all) and the new oil supplies will simply add to the climate woes. This is why the IPCC have been extremely clear that we must not drill any new sites if we want to limit the world's warming climate.

We need some effective way to get rid of politicians that serve oil interests rather than the electorate.

//external-content.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=https%3A%2F%2Flive.staticflickr.com%2F65535%2F49780427778_f8894d743c_o.jpg&f=1&nofb=1&ipt=22346d77489e7dfc8cef01b24d89d3329cca2fdd581627707355776efd3b63c5&ipo=images)

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Rich_cb replied to hawkinspeter | 8 months ago
2 likes

Take your position to its logical conclusion and we should stop building wind farms...

If reducing our demand for oil/gas imports has no effect on oil/gas production then building a wind farm (which requires a decent amount of coal etc) will create CO2 emissions but lead to no reduction in global fossil fuel consumption.

The net effect of building the wind farm will therefore be an increase in global CO2 emissions. That doesn't seem quite right does it?

Personally I think that reducing demand for oil/gas will lead to a reduction in the production of oil/gas.

The evidence for this can be seen in the output cuts being imposed by OPEC in response to falling prices which themselves are a result of reduced demand.

You can also look at what happens to US shale drilling when demand falls. It reduces.

Right now drilling is increasing rapidly in America as the LNG demand supports higher prices and more profits.

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wycombewheeler replied to Rich_cb | 8 months ago
2 likes

Rich_cb wrote:

That doesn't seem quite right does it? Personally I think that reducing demand for oil/gas will lead to a reduction in the production of oil/gas. .

Sadly I think there will always be markets for oil and gas, and so the known reserves will be exploited eventually, whether that takes 20, 30 or 50 years. So the only ways to sufficiently impact carbon emissions globally is a global embargo on new wells being drilled and a ban on the international trade of oil and gas.

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chrisonabike replied to wycombewheeler | 8 months ago
1 like

wycombewheeler wrote:

Rich_cb wrote:

That doesn't seem quite right does it? Personally I think that reducing demand for oil/gas will lead to a reduction in the production of oil/gas. .

Sadly I think there will always be markets for oil and gas, and so the known reserves will be exploited eventually, whether that takes 20, 30 or 50 years. So the only ways to sufficiently impact carbon emissions globally is a global embargo on new wells being drilled and a ban on the international trade of oil and gas.

A simple "predict and provide" model probably won't even get us where our stated targets are.  That also ignores stuff that comes along unexpectedly like "health" and "war".

OTOH "too much" and public and market confidence makes your political life much shorter.  There's always a question about how much change our politicos think they need.  After all most are not going to spend a lot of time with people at the sharp end of economics!

Even if they do see a need the system will act to limit how much they think they can "force".  (For "reductions" in stuff for anyone but the "have-nots" I suspect it's more like "nudge".)  Political cycles are fairly short - you could be out before you've pulled off your great idea.

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Rich_cb replied to wycombewheeler | 8 months ago
1 like

I disagree.

As someone else linked to earlier in the thread, the cost of renewables is now low enough to compete with fossil fuels.

This should drive down demand for fossil fuels and will lead to many mines/wells etc becoming unviable. It's important however that we stop using the worst fuels first. A carbon tax on fossil fuels would help achieve that.

If increasing supplies of 'cleaner' fossil fuels leads to a faster wean from the 'dirtier' fuels we shouldn't shy away from supporting that.

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lonpfrb replied to hawkinspeter | 8 months ago
3 likes
hawkinspeter wrote:

We need some effective way to get rid of politicians that serve oil interests rather than the electorate.

Both British Petroleum and Royal Dutch Shell are past masters at geopolitics and lobbying UK government especially HM Treasury.

Education of the electorate is possible but compared to the interests concerned is not funded significantly.
100 years of collaboration with Big Auto makes Big Oil untouchable in practice...

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