LAST Friday I went to the Oxford Friends of the Earth meeting on Climate Change and Transport. The Wesley Memorial church was full, a great display of the energy and commitment to tackling climate change.

I had my cycling hat on (the metaphorical one as I don’t generally wear my cycle helmet indoors) eagerly awaiting golden nuggets to add to my arsenal of evidence that cycling is the only way to save the world! The speakers were excellent and the audience well informed, and it was great to see both the city’s MPs strongly backing ambitious action. However, I came away slightly disappointed. Walking and cycling is, indisputably, the best way to tackle transport related emissions of greenhouse gases from short journeys, but very little time was devoted to these aspects in the meeting – perhaps they were taken as given. Consequently, I have done some research on how investment in cycling can reduce transport related greenhouse gas emissions.

Cycling as a mode of transport is extremely low carbon. The European Cycling Federation found that cycling a 20kg bike emits 21g of CO2 per km travelled, compared to 101g/km on a bus and 271g/km by car.

Secondly, transport is a major and persistent contributor to climate change, accounting for 24 per cent of UK’s greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in 2015 (and 30 per cent of Oxfordshire’s). It also trails behind other sectors in terms of reductions of GHGs. CO2 from road transport dropped by 0.4 per cent between 1990 and 2015, whereas emissions from energy and business fell by 44 per cent and 39 per cent respectively over the same period.

Across Europe approximately half of all car trips made are less than three miles, distances easy to cover on bike or by foot.

Studies in both Europe and the US have found that increasing cycling rates from the current average of six per cent to around 14 per cent by 2050 could cut transport-related emissions by 11 per cent.

Cutting transport emissions by transferring people from short car journeys to bike journeys is excellent value for money. The Scottish Government found that a range of behavioural change actions (travel plans) could cut emissions at the rate of £10 per tonne abated, cycle infrastructure is obviously more expensive at £170 per tonne abated, but this pales in comparison to the £3,000 per tonne abated for high speed rail. This is not an argument against investment in public transport, but let’s get the quick wins.

Therefore, simply from a climate perspective, investment in cycling is a no-brainer; not to mention the impact that cycling has on health, well-being, society and congestion, all of which have economic benefits. We know it is possible to reduce transport related GHG emissions by 11 per cent from a modest increase in cycling, through a raft of low-tech measures.

It is therefore profoundly depressing when local MP Layla Moran, vice-chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Cycling, reports that as the rhetoric around cycling goes up, the investment in cycling goes down. She stated that there is a lack of joined-up thinking in local plans and the ability of developers and local authorities to water down provision for active travel are real barriers to progress.

We should remind the Government that as a signatory to the Paris Climate Agreement investing in cycling is a low-cost way to make a significant impact on transport related emissions of greenhouses gases.