I've been watching the news today with incredulity, dear reader.
Ian Pearson, the UK's Environment Minister, criticised the airline industry for not taking climate change seriously. Yes, that's right, dear reader.
Airlines are businesses and, as such, operate within the law. Most of the time. If the government don't like what they're doing, steps can be taken. Or has the government forgotten it can make wee things we call laws? They're a bit like rules, only punishable by the courts.
If the governement took climate change seriously, namely carbon emissions, they wouldn't have put a former airline chief executive in charge of an inquiry looking at the future transport needs of the country.
I had an email from Flybe today, advising me that all their fares, point to point, are cheaper than taking the same journey by train. The government has done nothing to stop train companies increasing their fares, in some cases, by double the rate of inflation.
On the day when Taiwan introduced its high speed rail network to its people, our Environment Minister is making a fool of himself.
The government have no plans to introduce a Shinkansen style network here, even though they know in doing so, we would meet our Kyoto Protocol targets without having to do anything else at all.
It's time the government took carbon emissions, climate change and transport issues seriously instead of ranting and raving at companies who are only doing what companies do (making money) and doing so within the law.
Rod's report is dreadful. And the government must be rubbing their hands with glee. They're let off the hook and won't have to fork out a penny. My conclusions would have been utterly different:
Implementation of the road pricing scheme immediately. Abolition of tax on environmentally friendly private vehicles. Increase the tax on environmentally harmful vehicles by £500.00, rising to £2,000.00 for 4X4s. Increasing air passengers' tax to £50.00 within the EU and £100.00 for the rest of the world. I'd advocate a minimum fare of £100.00 to encourage people onto the trains, but I'm confident that this would be unlawful. I'd renationalise the rail network (but not the train operating companies) and make rail fanchaisees tax exempt. I'd also put a cap on rail fare increases to match inflation for at least ten years. Oh, last but not least, the introduction of a high speed rail network throughout the United Kingdom, from Plymouth to London (stopping at Exeter and Southampton) with a branch to Cardiff via Bristol; a west coast line from London to Glasgow with stops at Birmingham and Manchester; an east coast line to Inverness with stops at Nottingham, Hull, York, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. And that would be just for starters.
What do you think, dear reader?