COUNCILLOR Steve Bell is right to take Brighton and Hove City Council to task for not publishing its performance on climate change, given the importance of this issue (The Argus, August 21).

I’m afraid though that he is somewhat confused as to what is really relevant. Given that home energy use and transport are the two biggest sources of carbon emissions, these are where the council’s focus needs to be.

So while our recycling rates are fairly low (due to the incinerator contract that Conservative councillors supported) they do not have a major impact on carbon emissions.

Similarly, building on greenfield sites should be an act of last resort but again this is less important for reducing emissions.

However, Cllr Steve Bell continues to promote the urban myth that free-flowing traffic is all you need to do to tackle climate change. This is a flawed argument for many reasons but mainly because when you free up traffic you create extra capacity.

So while emissions might improve slightly, very soon the extra capacity encourages more people to drive and the congestion and pollution grows.

This can be seen from the increasing delays to buses over the past few years despite new traffic signals increasing traffic flow. Calling for more car parking in new developments can also encourage more traffic and pollution.

In contrast, installing cycle or bus lanes can cause short-term disruption and congestion but over time that tends to fall away. Given we need to rapidly reduce carbon emissions, not merely stop them getting worse, we need significant traffic reduction. This can only be achieved by providing people with better alternatives.

This will not happen without taking some road space away from driving and which is why removing the Old Shoreham Road cycle lanes is such a big mistake.

It's good to hear that Cllr Bell is concerned about climate change but I have yet to hear what he’s proposing we do about it. He’s previously claimed that a tree planting project in Hollingbury was a major contribution to reducing emissions but as I pointed out then, while important, it would have a marginal impact.

Given that this is an emergency, I look forward to a speedy response from Cllr Bell showing how we will become carbon neutral by 2030.

Chris Todd

Planning and transport campaigner

Brighton and Hove Friends of the Earth

Hollingdean Terrace