A bicycle thief has been jailed for three years for ‘ecological crimes’ in Belgium because his victims would be forced to drive their cars instead.
A judge at Brussels Criminal Court heard the man in his 40s stole a cycle in October and has 17 previous convictions.
The judge said: ‘It is therefore advisable to severely punish the defendant who commits crimes the gravity of which is important for the planet, since the victim deprived of his bicycle has no other option than to use a more polluting means of transport.
Ecological crimes are usually restricted to actions that have a more direct impact on the environment, like polluting rivers or emitting greenhouse gases.
But campaigners are increasingly calling for the scope of such crimes to be greatly widened.
The Way Forward campaign is calling on the UK government to encourage the use of public transport in order to ensure a green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
A national campaign to help to get people back on board public transport in the UK has been launched by sustainable transport charity, Campaign for Better Transport.
The Way Forward campaign is calling on the UK government to support public transport by actively encouraging people to use buses, trains, coaches and trams as restrictions ease and introducing an incentive scheme to help to boost passenger numbers as part of a national plan to place public transport at the heart of a green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Paul Tuohy, Chief Executive of CfBT said: “The events of the last year have made people less confident about using public transport, but, as restrictions continue to ease, we all need to start getting back on board. That’s why we’ve launched this campaign to urge the government to reassure people that public transport is safe again and to introduce a national scheme of discounted fares to encourage people to use it.
London is alive with the sounds of humanity. The rumble of the tube. The piercing ring of a siren. The drilling. The shouting. The honking. These are modern sounds created by a 21st century society, but noise pollution isn’t a modern trend.
According to Peter Ackroyd, a novelist and poet, 18th century London “rang with the hammers of artisans and the cries of tradesmen”, producing more noise than anywhere else in the country. Industrialised London was the noisiest city in the whole world, according to Walter Besant. Hogarth translated the maddening sounds of London onto canvas in his 1741 painting, which depicted an enraged musician despairing at the cacophony of sounds around him.
Although urban noise isn’t new, it hasn’t ever really been taken seriously as a public health issue that policy can help resolve. Have we underestimated the harm that noise has on our neighbourhoods, our health and our wellbeing?
Sound and health
There is increasing evidence that long-term exposure to noise pollution has negative effects on health. Cases of anxiety, depression, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes have been shown to increase when noise levels do. According to the World Health Organisation, 1.6 million healthy life years are lost every year because of environmental noise, mainly due to the cortisol that it makes us release.
In late 2019, the International Tripartite Rubber Council warned the global supply would fall short by one million tonnes (900,000 tons) in 2020, around 7% of production. Then the pandemic hit.
Demand reduced immediately, and driven miles – the key measure for ultimate demand for rubber – dropped as countries went into lockdown. But rubber soon bounced back. “Demand outpaced even the most bullish predictions,” says Meyer. As they came out of lockdown, Chinese citizens bought huge numbers of new cars, thanks to fears around the safety of public transport. Similar patterns are expected globally. “Demand has since eclipsed supply,” says Meyer. “Now there is an acute shortage (of rubber) in destinations, and inventory held by tyre makers is very low.”Although synthetic rubber can be produced from petrochemicals, natural rubber has unique properties which even these synthetics can’t match: natural latex gloves are more resistant to tear than nitrile ones, while aircraft tyres use natural rubber for its high elasticity and resistance to heat, which can build up from friction during landing.
And once the rubber shortage begins to bite and prices climb, farmers will be incentivised to clear tropical rainforest to plant more rubber. Although palm oil plantations have received far more attention, rubber plantations can be just as bad for biodiversity loss, according to Warren-Thomas.
Episode 2 of the Urban Exchange podcast welcomes the City of Rotterdam’s Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb as its special guest, as he discusses how to advance urban resilience for climate adaptation with the Resilient Cities Network’s (R-Cities) executive director, Lauren Sorkin.
During the discussion, Mayor Aboutaleb speaks about the challenges facing his city at the moment, the steps he’s taking to face them, and the importance of collaboration in building resilience against them.
Elsewhere, the Mayor speaks specifically about climate resiliency in Rotterdam, describing how cities must continue to innovate to protect against climate stresses, what this looks like in Rotterdam and across the Netherlands, and which examples of climate resilience innovation he finds most impressive.
Rhodri Clark18 October 2021
Graeme Dey: ‘We have agreed to conduct a transparent evidence-based review of the programme’
The Scottish Government remains committed to dualling the A96 despite the scheme being under review as part of the cooperation agreement between the SNP and Scottish Green Party.
The A96 connects Aberdeen to Inverness. Draft orders for its £3bn dualling were published in 2016, and the Scottish Government had committed to completing the dualling by 2030. Three of the programme’s four stages are in preparation: Inverness to Nairn, including the Nairn bypass; Hardmuir to Fochabers; and…
Author, academic and campaigner Andrew Simms argues we need to rethink our relationship with the car – much as we have done for smoking.
Three pioneers who predicted climate change
Is it time to reassess our relationship with nature?
Watch more viewpoints in our IMHO playlist
Oct 11, 2021
What should transport look like in the next five years?
Adam Ramsay 8 October 2021
But while some drivers were shifting away from climate-changing commutes, others were going in the opposite direction. A record 42% of new cars sold last year were SUVs. Since 2010, the total number of gas guzzlers has gone from 50 million to 280 million. According to the same IEA report, this trend has wiped out any gains made by eco-aware consumers with their battery-powered engines.
These two trends probably aren’t entirely unrelated. If one group of people buys less petrol, then the price of fuel will fall. And so other people will buy more.
Roger Geffen, policy director at Cycling UK.
The UK government’s recent transport decarbonisation plan (TDP) has had a mixed reception. The consensus seems to be that it contains plenty of positive ideas but that it is very weak on a clear overall direction for the transport sector. Commentators have voiced frustration at its lack of a plan to reduce the demand for travel, so that the UK transport sector can play its part in averting the unfolding climate crisis.
This ambivalence is evident in the secretary of state’s foreword to the plan. At one point he says, “We must make public transport, cycling and walking the natural first choice for all who can take it”. Yet, elsewhere, he says, “It’s not about stopping people doing things: it’s about doing the same things differently … We will still drive on improved roads, but increasingly in zero emission cars.”
This mixed messaging does nothing to help councils, businesses and others know what kind of low carbon future to plan for.