SIR David Attenborough has warned “the moment of crisis has come” in our efforts to tackle climate change. The evidence overwhelmingly supports this: with unprecedented wildfires in Australia, the melt of four trillion tonnes of ice from Greenland and news that the previous decade was the hottest in 150 years.

At local level, an important way to reduce climate-changing emissions should be to discontinue unnecessarily large private vehicles - especially diesels - in favour of modestly-sized electric cars.

A report published by World Energy Outlook 2019 reveals the contribution of SUVs to the increase in global CO2 emissions since 2010: they are second only to the power sector, with emissions greater than heavy industry, trucks and aviation. However, UK vehicle tax rates are only modestly scaled by CO2 emissions and much more must be done to reflect the greater pollution involved in their manufacture and use.

The belief that SUVs are safer than ordinary cars is challenged by evidence that those driving them are 11 per cent more likely to die in a crash than people in normal cars. To really reduce accidents in our area we need better traffic calming measures. Most of Malton, Pickering and Thirsk should have blanket 20mph speed limits and 40mph buffer zones on all approach roads. Some boroughs around Britain have already done this.

The take-up of zero-emissions electric vehicles is discouraged by the lack of public charging points. These should be installed at every filling station and car park in our area. It is a disgrace that from Thirsk to Filey there are fewer than 10 public fast-charging points for electric vehicles. This neither serves residents or encourages tourists.

Last June, the government committed to reducing UK carbon emissions to net zero by 2050, but we are still waiting for any signs of action on the ground. At local level, our MP Kevin Hollinrake must actively petition to increase taxes on large private cars, introduce lower speed limits and traffic calming, and promote the use of electric vehicles. As Attenborough says, we hold the environment in trust for our children – and we must act now.

Dr Peter Williams, Malton

Show the evidence

RE: Gazette & Herald, January 22, “Ban on burning will not help our moors”. As ever, there are two sides to every argument. Is it true that Australia’s wildfires happened as a result of the lack of controlled burning?

There is plausible evidence that record-breaking temperatures combined with several years of severe drought, consistent with global warming, have meant that such controlled burning has been neither a safe nor viable option, leaving a tinderbox poised for ignition.

Rarely, if ever, will such a severe situation be replicated on Yorkshire’s somewhat chillier moorlands.

Our much-loved heather moorlands are, of course, a purely man-made environment, kept that way largely as a monoculture for lucrative driven grouse shooting.

Controlled burning may temporarily reduce the fuel load, but arguably with different management, could rapidly develop into a far less flammable expanse, irrespective of periods of drought.

The claim of burning being “a huge benefit to birdlife” needs evidence. Which birds other than grouse? Certainly not shot, trapped or poisoned raptors. North Yorkshire has the worst record nationwide for the illegal persecution of these protected birds.

Peat moorland is critical for climate change mitigation through carbon storage, effectively holding back rainfall to “slow the flow”, both reducing speed and volume of run-off and therefore downstream flood risk, while also reducing drought risks.

Comprehensive, peer reviewed, academic studies of moorland burning have proved a raft of negative effects on peat hydrology, peat chemistry and physical properties, river water chemistry and river ecology. These independent academics are not “so-called green campaigners” and their hard evidence indicates that a ban on prescribed burning would have numerous clear benefits. If Tina Brough, representing the shooting lobby, believes “this could not be further from the truth”, she could read Leeds University’s EMBER report.

Mike Potter, Pickering

Change of opinion?

WE have read with interest your report (January 29) regarding the Conservative Parliamentary Caucus to drive the green agenda in Westminster.

Of particular interest is the pledge by our MP Kevin Hollinrake to support its aims to nudge government policy in a green direction and claims to have been campaigning on environmental issues and championing green technologies.

As supporters of fracking cannot honestly claim to have green credentials, can we assume that Mr Hollinrake has changed his views on this issue and will join the campaign to ban it?

Phil and Chris Rowland, Pickering