Given that the UK Government is supposed to be committed to reducing the UK’s carbon footprint, it is perverse that it is furthering a vast infrastructure project like the Ox-Cam Arc.
In June 2019, the 2008 Climate Change Act was amended to commit the UK to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Constructing a vast new conurbation over 4500 square miles only adds to the scale of the challenge, making it hugely difficult to meet the new requirements of the Act.
In October 2018, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported that we have just 12 years to avert climate catastrophe (read about it here). The IPCC’s team of scientists warn than action must be taken right now to reduce the risk of extreme heat, floods, climate-related poverty for millions of people and massive loss of biodiversity.
The Government is well aware of this report, yet is apparently still committed to “unleashing” economic growth in the South East, laughably referred to as “sustainable”. The construction of just one two-bedroomed house emits around 80 tonnes of CO2. If the Government’s housing ambitions for the area are realised – let alone its aspirations for technology, industrial, business and shopping complexes, tens of millions of tonnes of CO2 would be emitted.
So, how much CO2 will be emitted by the development of the Ox-Cam Arc overall? Has the Government considered the Arc in the context of the cumulative impacts of all UK developments? Has the Government considered the environmental impacts of the electric vehicles on which it pins its hopes? Will offset land and really act as a sufficient carbon sink, given the scale of what is proposed? Given the large-scale loss of farmland beneath the Arc, can we ensure Uk food security? Is the Ox-Cam Arc the right thing to be doing in the face of Covid-19, and the ever-present threat of new pandemics? There is no indication that the Government has thought in depth about any of this. The assumption is that we can build ourselves out of catastrophe:
The Arc’s success is key to the UK’s national prosperity, international competitiveness, and ability to meet the challenges and opportunities we will face as a country over the next century, including climate change and supporting nature recovery, technological change, fighting COVID-19 and preventing future pandemics.
Horrific scenes of floods in Germany and China recently, of rampaging fires in Australia, the US, and Canada, and huge problems with flooding here in the UK show us that the Government should be taking the climate emergency seriously, rather than pleasing the development lobbyists.
Constructing new industrial and business complexes and a million new houses across the Ox-Cam Arc is the exact opposite of the actions that should be taken.