"Can We Cut Carbon by Burning More Petrol?" -" Yes, Minister"

Friday 30th September 2011

Take the brakes off carbon emissions?Take the brakes off carbon emissions?

The Wildlife Trust has criticised plans to raise the national speed limit to 80 mph. Encouraging lower fuel efficiency in the face of rising CO2 emissions is madness.

The Government say that driving at 80 mph is 28% less efficient than driving at 55 mph, and that we MUST cut our carbon emissions to combat climate change.

So they have just announced a proposal to raise the national speed limit to 80 mph. Hooray for joined-up government!

According to studies backed by the department of energy, the average car will be at its advertised MPG at 55 mph. But as the speed increases:

      - 3% less efficient at 60 mph
      - 8% less efficient at 65 mph
      - 17% less efficient at 70 mph
      - 23% less efficient at 75 mph
      - 28% less efficient at 80 mph

Source: mpgforspeed.com

So that's over a quarter as much fuel and a quarter more carbon emissions at 80 mph.

Will this legitimisation of speeding on motorways lead to more speeding on minor roads at a time when speed cameras are switched off because of budget cuts? What about the impact on road safety, and even wildlife that crosses roads?

Wildlife Trust Chief Executive, Neil Wyatt says "I don't know whether to laugh or cry. If wasn't such a serious matter to see one of Government's most important targets on Climate Change being challenged by a petty, populist, policy, this would be straight out of Yes, Minister."