Cars blamed for rising flood risk

The Government must encourage motorists to abandon their cars if it wants to make any impact on reducing the causes of global warming, a report said yesterday.

The Energy Saving Trust describes global warming as "the greatest threat facing the world community" and says its effect will lead to more flooding.

Carbon dioxide emissions from cars can be reduced by making vehicles more efficient, it says. But its report adds: "A long-term policy aimed at slowing down and ultimately reducing car ownership as well as use will be necessary to have any real impact on transport emissions."

The Trust estimates that, in the UK alone, buildings and land worth £222bn are at risk of flooding caused by global warming, and says that five million people could be affected by rising sea levels and increased rainfall. The report also says more than three fifths of the country's best farmland is threatened.

Europe suffered a summer of extreme weather with heavy rains creating floods that killed scores of people. Last month, torrential downpours crippled rail and tube services in London.

The Department of Trade and Industry is expected to publish a White Paper on the subject at the end of the year.