The environmental argument the government has made for
the HS2 high speed rail link could be weakend if the power sector
is not decarbonised by 2030, according to official documents
The coalition government is engaged in a
battle to persuade reluctant MPs to support the
proposed high-speed rail
network. Yesterday, it published a 400 page
parliamentary bill, accompanied by a 50,000 page
environmental statement. The documents effectively form a
planning application for the first stage of the scheme,
which will create a new rail link between London and
assessment, the government argues that HS2 will play a "key
part in the UK's future low carbon transport system" and will
"support" the government's overall carbon objectives.
The government claims that the scheme will save about
three million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions over its
sixty-year lifetime, as people choose to take the train rather than
fly or drive.
But coalition battles over energy policy mean the
Department for Transport's calculations may be built on shaky
foundations. High profile Tories - including chancellor George
Osborne - continue to oppose a decarbonisation target.
The government's climate case for
Taking the train is less carbon-polluting than flying
or driving. If HS2 was available today, the carbon emissions from
taking the train from London to Birmingham would be about a quarter of
those created by making the journey by car or flying, according to
consultancy report released at the end of last year.
A "modal shift" to rail will reduce emissions, the
government says. It will make the transport system as whole less
climate-polluting by increasing the total carrying capacity of the
rail network for passengers and freight.