COP26: Could our region's canals provide a solution to the climate crisis?

76-year-old John Branford has moved close to four million tonnes on the canals in his lifetime.

Last year, the barge skipper from Goole became the first in almost two decades, to bring freight into Leeds by canal.

John Branford Credit: ITV Calendar

He says investing in our waterways by improving their capacity to carry goods could drastically cut pollution from haulage.

"I mean you get a canal system, if you really do it properly and well it can last over a hundred years."

"From Hull, the tide pushes you to Goole inland, tide's pushing you that way, when you go back, the ebb's taking you the other way so in my opinion, there could be a good future in it, and it's the right thing to do, because we've got to look after the planet, we've got to do everything we can and why should everything be on the road?"

Transport is the UK's biggest source of emissions, releasing more than a quarter of all greenhouse gases in 2019.

And in recent history it has one of the worst track records for going green.

The government wants road transport to be carbon neutral within two decades and while vehicles have become more efficient, journeys have got longer and more frequent.

It means while there has been progress elsewhere, transport emissions have barely changed in the last thirty years.

The Yorkshire Climate Change Commission says better public transport will cut the need for private cars.

And West Yorkshire's Mayor, Tracy Brabin, says we need a commitment to high speed rail to help us meet our green transport targets.

Credit: PA

"Well it's going to be really challenging. What's really important is government promised us this really big infrastructure project that's going to make a difference to climate emergency and to get freight off the roads and onto the train, it's about connectivity across the north not just to London.

"I would say to government, we will support you to deliver on your climate targets, just give us the chance to do it."

The government has already pledged £2 billion in cycling and walking and £2.8 billion to support industry and motorists to make the switch to cleaner vehicles.

But on canal transportation, John says at up to five hundred tonnes of freight at a time, he could take as many as 18 lorries off the roads.

Numbers which those navigating our way out of the climate crisis simply cannot ignore he says: "The arithmetic stacks up, it's a lot more environmentally friendly on here... why shouldn't you do more of it? It just makes sense to me."