Environment: Greener cars up to task

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The Independent Online
Tony Blair's announcement yesterday of a task force to encourage motorists to use greener, more fuel-efficient cars could be read as an acknowledgement that most people will not be persuaded to switch to public transport.

As the Prime Minister was advocating a new attitude so drivers "think green first", the independent Transport Research Group issued figures showing that while motorists readily admitted there were healthier ways of travelling, the car won for sheer convenience.

Two-thirds of respondents said they used cars because public transport was inadequate and of poor quality. "Stories about road rage and the environmental damage caused by cars may have increased the stress levels of drivers, but they have had no impact on their driving habits," said Austin Williams, the TRG co- ordinator.

The new task force will be headed by Gavin Strang, the transport minister, and co-chaired by Ian McAllister, chief executive of Ford in the UK and president of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. Its aim will be promote fuel efficient, less polluting vehicles people actually want to buy and drive. Mr Blair said: "To be modern is to be green. I want people to be able to make choices and choosing an environmentally friendly car should be a cost-effective alternative."

Friends of the Earth said task force would have to overcome resistance from the motor industry and even then the initiative was only a partial solution.

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