Smart Transport

Further delay to transport decarbonisation plan

 Transport Minister Rachel Maclean

Transport Minister Rachel Maclean is “not satisfied” that the Government’s draft transport decarbonisation plan will meet UK’s carbon emission reduction requirements.

The plan is the first time the UK will lay out its approach to decarbonising every form of transport and is an essential part of achieving the legal requirement for net zero emissions by 2050 and the Climate Change Committee's sixth carbon budget.

It was originally due to be published before the end of 2020 and was then pushed back to spring 2021.

But with the summer solstice on Monday (June 21), the Government is set to miss another deadline.

A Westminster Hall debate on the plan took place yesterday (June 16) and when questioned on the publication date, Maclean said: “We have done a huge amount of work on the plan, as I have said in this House many times, and we have a final draft.

“I am not satisfied with the draft because it does not meet the ambition we need in order to reach those incredibly challenging targets.

“It is my desire that, when we publish the plan, hon. Members will not be disappointed, and we will be able to ensure that we have taken into account the Climate Change Committee’s sixth carbon budget advice.

“I cannot give a date, I am afraid, so I cannot meet hon. Members’ challenges head on, but we are working through that at pace and intend to publish soon.”

She added that Government had committed to developing three key policy documents over the course of 2021:

  • A delivery plan, which will set out “key Government commitments, funding and milestones” for the 2030 ban on the sale of conventional petrol and diesel engine cars and vans and the 2035 phase out date for hybrids. Maclean promised that the delivery plan would “deal with the question whether we will have a zero emission vehicle mandate”. 
  • An infrastructure strategy, which will set out “the vision and action plan for the charging infrastructure roll-out that is needed to achieve our ambitious phase-out date successfully and accelerate the transition to zero emission fleet”.
  • The Green Paper on the UK future CO2 emissions regulatory framework, which will set out how the UK will phase out petrol and diesel cars and vans and support the interim carbon budgets. This will include “consulting on which vehicles exactly can be sold between 2030 and 2035”.

Mandatory charge points in new homes

Maclean said the Government intends to “support people to charge their cars at home”.

“We are working closely with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government at the moment and we have consulted on plans to introduce a requirement for every new home to have a charge point, where there is an associated parking space. We will publish our response soon.

“We aim to lay regulations in Parliament in 2021 - this year - that will make England the first country in the world to introduce mandatory charge points in new homes, again cementing our position as the global leader in the race to net zero.”

The Government also intends to tackle the issue of public charge points not working.

When questioned by Labour's shadow minister for green and future transport Kerry McCarthy whether there would be legislation requiring charge point operators to meet certain reliability standards, Maclean said: “We already have those powers in legislation and we intend to use them.”

On the importance of energy policy aligning with the 2030 ban, Maclean said the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), will be “coming forward shortly with its net zero strategy”, which will “answer many of those issues about the electricity network”.

Support for sustainable travel

Maclean acknowledged the importance of public transport and active travel in achieving carbon emissions reductions.

She said that the Government must “continue to support public transport as one of the most sustainable ways around”.

“On rail, we are building on our Williams-Shapps plan for rail to decarbonise the rail network,” she said.

“We have already completed 700 miles of rail electrification in England and Wales, and we will continue to electrify more of the network in the years ahead.

“In the past year, there has been a meteoric rise in cycling and walking, and all of our policy development is aimed at embedding that shift…we are investing £2 billion to enable half of all travel in towns and cities to be cycled or walked by 2030.”

She added: “Our transport decarbonisation plan must not just change transport to be greener; it must make transport better for everyone, because transport is what connects people to opportunity, prosperity and each other.

“Our resolve in tackling climate change and ending the UK’s contribution to it could not be stronger.”

Watch Rachel Maclean's speech on future of transport

If you missed Maclean's speech at last week's Virtual Smart Transport Conference, you can still catch up with our on-demand service. 

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Watch now: Connecting Policy To Solutions Virtual Conference 2021

Smart Transport Conference returned on June 8th & 9th, to facilitate pivotal discussions on the future of transport. 

The UK’s most senior public and private sector transport leaders discussed the impact of Covid-19, achieving the Government’s decarbonisation ambitions, the need for more efficient living and better health, and much more.

Keynote speakers included: 

Kwasi Kwarteng, secretary of state at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), who spoke on BEIS's approach to decarbonising transport, particularly the electrification of the vehicle industry

Keith Williams, co-author of the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail, who spoke on rail’s role in integrated transport, decarbonisation and innovation.

Rachel Maclean, parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Department for Transport, who discussed the future of transport and its pivotal role in a ‘green recovery’ from the pandemic.

 

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