Conference Day Three: Oil and Coffee for breakfast

Well, day three has started early with a fringe meeting: Untying the Knot, cutting the link between transport and oil. Stephen Joseph must think I’m stalking him.

Plenty of coffee was available to get us going this early in the morning, although I had been up for a while and had used the good public transport system in Merseyside to get in. Maria Eagle made the vital point that car usage was key to breaking the link between oil and transport, and that the transition to a low carbon transport system had to be inclusive – Labour’s values demand nothing less.

Stephen Joseph carried on his theme from yesterday’s breakfast fringe in saying we needed to look at car dependency. Smart cards are going to be vital as part of that, along with increased investment in railways, especially electrification and Light Rail (though don’t tell that to the SNP in Edinburgh!) He made the valid point that looking at European cities, you can have prosperity even with (maybe due to?) low and lower car use. Social exclusion exists because of poor public transport and no access to cars. On the coalition’s policies, he made the good point that all they are really doing is carrying on Lord Adonis’ work from the last government, albeit at a slower pace.

Andrew Pendleton from IPPR said the big challenge was de-carbonising the transport system and talked about the “Peak Car” data – similar to peak oil. We are already seeing car use decline in many developed countries around the world. Rail transport hasn’t really dipped in the UK during this recession, unlike almost every other one.

All in all, a very good fringe with some excellent points, it was just a pity I seemed to be the only delegate there, as most of the audience appeared to be representing industry bodies or pressure groups.

PS. Lets Stick Together will be a great theme.

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