Our Government have committed to Net Zero, the Climate Change Committee have stated that “New roads should only be built if they can be shown not to increase emissions“. So the latest carbon emission figures showing the proposed Lower Thames Crossing would emit around 6.6million tonnes of carbon is truly concerning.
The latest info can be found in Chapter 15 of the Environmental Statement (ES) which was released as part of the 2022 LTC Development Consent Order (DCO) application documents.
Construction emissions – 1.763 million tonnes (15.6.2 of Chapter 15 and 7.3.35 of COMA report)
User emissions – 4,833,762 tonnes over 60 years (Table 15.16) and 95,415 extra tonnes of CO2 in the opening year alone.
“The total net GHG emissions over the appraisal period of the Project (construction stage plus 60-year operational phase from opening) are calculated to be approximately 6.596 million tCO2e with TAG GHG Workbook (DfT, 2022a) / EFT v11 (Defra, 2021)” (5.6.19 of Chapter 15)
Yes you read that right, a total of nearly 6.6m (six point six million) tonnes of LTC carbon emissions!
In Dec 2022 it was reported that a National Highways boss has said there won’t be a Lower Thames Crossing if they don’t resolve carbon issues.
What TCAG are saying
It seems to us that National Highways have been attempting to hide, mislead, and greenwash the LTC carbon emissions over the years which is completely unacceptable.
They continue to claim LTC would be the greenest road every built in the UK, which again they have no evidence to back up, and they are attempting to put all the onus on to the contractors, rather than admitting new roads are destructive and harmful.
As the Climate Change Committee stated, “New roads should only be built if they can be shown not to increase emissions”, by this reckoning the estimate of 6.6 million tonnes of carbon clearly shows that the proposed LTC should not be built.
We have also seen no break down of the additional cost associated with ‘greener’ options of road building, but we know it would be considerable. Plus it’s not just the financial cost that needs to be considered, but also the cost to our environment. We need actions to back up all the talk, because unless we act now our planet won’t be able to sustain a healthy future for anyone or anything.
On 18th July 2022 National Highways issued new claims about the carbon emissions of the proposed LTC being reduced by 80%.
Using the figures that were available at the time showed that far from a highly speculative 80% reduction in operational traffic emissions for the proposed LTC, there is actually evidence to show a whopping 67% increase in the estimated LTC operational traffic carbon emissions. Yet another attempt by NH to try and put a spin on the realities of the proposed LTC with yet more greenwashing.
Whilst their claims use the 2016 carbon emission estimate of 5.98 million tonnes, their 2020 ‘6.3 Environmental Statement Appendices Appendix 15.1 Carbon and Energy Plan‘ which was part of their failed attempt to submit the LTC Development Consent Order (DCO) states that the total carbon emissions is estimated to be just over 5.27 million tonnes. (paragraph 1.1.3)
The same document states (paragraph 1.1.4) that 52% of the total emissions is from operational traffic. This works out at 2.74 million tonnes.
Yet in the July 2022 NH press release the ‘Notes to Editors’ section details:
- A (sic) updated forecast of 4.6mt tonnes calculated using Emissions Factor Toolkit (EFTv11with London Adjustment). The EFT is a tool published by DEFRA to assist in calculating road vehicle pollution.
This highlights the huge 67% increase in operational traffic emissions alone.
Bold claims by both National Highways/LTC and contractor Balfour Beatty on reducing carbon have also faded under questioning, as exposed in Highways Magazine in Jan 2023. Just another example of more greenwash on the LTC.
What are carbon emissions, and why are they important?
When people are discussing carbon emissions they are referring to Carbon Dioxide, CO2. CO2 is released into the environment in many ways. This includes the CO2 we breathe out, as well as that from other animals and plants. Nature does it bests to keep these emissions in balance. Trees and other plants for example absorb CO2. However, we humans are not as good at the balancing act as the rest of nature, and our actions are pushing things out of whack in the wrong direction.
Put in simple terms, CO2 is one of a number of greenhouse gases that absorbs radiation and prevents heat from escaping our atmosphere. When the heat can’t escape it increases and creates disruption to weather patterns and causes climate changes which result in negative outcomes to our lives, which long term will not end well for us. This is why climate emergency has been declared around the world, and why it is so important that we take Carbon Emissions into account.
Some may deny Climate Change, but surely it is better to play it safe and worse case scenario we end up with a cleaner greener planet to live on?
Some history of the carbon emissions aspects of LTC
In June 2019, the UK became the first major country to legislate for a net-zero target for carbon emissions by 2050.
In Dec 2020 the Prime Minister announced a new ambitious target to reduce the UK’s emissions by at least 68% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.
Also in Dec 2020 – TCAG were chatting about LTC Carbon Emissions on BBC Radio Kent
In June 2021 the Climate Change Committee stated in their report, New roads should only be built if they can be shown not to increase emissions. By that reckoning the proposed LTC, which is estimated would create over 7 million tonnes of carbon emissions, should not be built.
In Feb 2022 , due to changes in the way the government now calculates carbon emission costs, the proposed Lower Thames Crossing carbon costs for construction alone rose by more than 230% to almost £500million. In an article in industry publication, New Civil Engineer, New Economics Foundation senior researcher has said “after factoring in the emissions over the scheme’s operational lifetime, the total climate cost is likely to rise over £1bn”.
In Dec 2022 it was reported that the Department for Transport(DfT) was refusing to share data behind the government’s Transport Decarbonisation Plan that had been requested by Professor Greg Marsden. They were even appealing the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) decision that they had to release the information.
In June 2023 the Climate Change Committee published their report and called for an urgent review into current and future road building projects in England.
Highways Magazine – Thames Tunnel carbon claims fade under questioning (Jan 2023) – click here
UK Government block release of CO2 figures behind transport plan – click here
No LTC if National Highways don’t resolve carbon issues – click here
Highways Magazine – Thames Tunnel carbon emissions up by 25% (Dec 2022)- click here
2022 LTC 6.1 Environmental Statement Chapter 15 – Climate – click here
2020 LTC 6.3 Environmental Statement Appendices Appendix 15.1 Carbon and Energy Plan available to view/download here.
Climate Change Committee Annual Report to Parliament 2022 – click here
Foundation for Integrated Transport (FIT) – Transport Appraisal and Carbon webinar
Highways Magazine (March 2022) – LTC facing carbon questions
New Civil Engineer (Feb 2022) – Carbon cost of Lower Thames Crossing construction rises to £500M
The Guardian (June 2021) – UK policies will not deliver emission cuts pledge, says climate adviser
The Guardian (Apr 2021) – Carbon emissions from England’s roads plan ‘100 times greater than Government claims’
KentOnline – Lower Thames Crossing to generate ‘5m tonnes of CO2’
Highways Magazine – Get real on Thames crossing carbon impact, Govt told
TCAG response to the Transport Decarbonisation Plan Consultation – www.thamescrossingactiongroup.com/transport-decarbonisation-plan-consultation-response/
Electric Vehicles argument – www.thamescrossingactiongroup.com/electric-vehicles-argument/
CPRE – ‘The end of the road?’ video