Letter: Save your energy

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The Independent Culture
Sir: While welcoming the Deputy Prime Minister's call for a national debate on ways to counter global warming ("UK's new global warming crusade", 27 October), I would like to point out the need to base such debate on genuine comparisons using today's facts and figures.

This is especially so when considering the issues involved in reducing vehicle emissions, arguably the most difficult problem facing the Government in developing an integrated transport policy. The current clamour for alternatives to unleaded petrol and diesel illustrates how easily reliance upon outdated research and performance indices can lead to inappropriate action being taken by government, individuals and fleet management professionals.

As your article points out, transport accounts for 23 per cent of the UK's CO2 emissions (with 85 per cent of this directly from road vehicles), however it is also worth noting that there are approximately 16.5 million vehicles on British roads today that are five years old or older. And they can generate 50 times more pollution than their 1998 equivalents. It is only by reducing the emissions of these vehicles that significant reductions can be made in vehicle-generated CO2 emissions.

There is also the additional issue of whether the use of gaseous fuels for transport purposes is the most effective use of these energy sources.

So whilst fully supporting open discussion on an issue of such importance, we would call for those involved in determining transport strategies, either within government or from a commercial perspective, to take account of the wider issues involved in reducing vehicle-related emissions.