You may have seen the old episode of Jerry Seinfeld where a gourmet soup maker in New York City decides who will be getting his soup to purchase, and who will not.
In a decision just as epic, the Welsh government has decided to halt all future road building in an effort to reach the target of net zero emissions by 2050. Wales has a population of 3.13 million people.
The deputy minister of climate change Lee Walters pointed out that while emissions had fallen by 30 percent in thirty years, drastic measures were needed to meet targets. In Wales 17 percent of emissions are from road vehicles.
What this means is that new road projects that encourage driving will be halted and instead funding will go towards road maintenance and transportation alternatives. Roads to new housing areas and industrial properties will still be built.
As reported by Stephen Morris in The Guardian, the future generations commissioner for Wales stated:
“Wales has for too long been prioritising cars over people. I’m hopeful that this new decision signals more of the radical action that will be taken by the Welsh government’s new climate change ministry.
An overreliance on the car has led to increased noise, poorer air quality, time wasted in traffic and an unacceptable burden on communities living near our most congested roads, often in areas where fewer people drive a car.”
It’s no surprise the Conservative government critics blasted the Labour government’s plans to not expand the road network. In the expected shoe shuffle, the conservatives blasted the Labour Government stating that road users were “let down” and that road transport corridors are the life flow of domestic and international trade.
Wales has also slowed five different roadways to 50 mile per hour speed limits. Compliance to the new speed has been good, with emission concentrations lessening due to the slower speeds. This is the same approach the Netherlands undertook for daytime road speed reduction.
I have already written about The Netherlands where under European law nitrogen oxide emissions must be mitigated before roads, housing and airports are built. In order to build 75,000 new dwelling units in 2020 the Dutch government lowered daytime highway speeds. In the Netherlands 50 kilograms of nitrogen compounds per hectare are released into the environment annually where the average in the rest of the European Union (EU) is 15 kilograms per hectare.