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Cut car trips, says former Home Secretary

Date: 06 December 2006

The Pre-Budget Report should begin the process of placing green politics at the heart of national life, former home secretary Charles Clarke has said.

Referring to the Stern Review and other reports he told an Institute for Public Policy Research event that transport and energy were the policy areas where a particular focus is needed.

"We have simply not set about implementing them energetically enough and a far higher and more committed level of real action is required," he proposed.

The goal should be to reduce the number of journeys by car.

"In Amsterdam and Zurich about 75% of people walk, cycle or use public transport rather than the car compared to 35-40% in Darlington or Peterborough," the former Home Secretary observed.

In the field of urban transport "we already know what we should be doing, but neither central nor local government have established a consistent enough policy framework nor given it a high enough priority", he said.

On energy use local authorities might want to make their communities carbon neutral, he added. "Indeed this would be a return to a historic role for local government."

But at the moment the energy pricing system "does not encourage in any way any form of local initiative of that type".