Smart Transport

Transport Scotland calls for 'substantial' behaviour change on car travel

Transport minister Graeme Dey

'Substantial' behaviour change on car travel is needed to transition to net zero, according to a new report published by Transport Scotland.

The report from the low carbon consultancy Element Energy provides an independent assessment of what policy outcomes are required for the transport sector to make the transition to net zero.

 "Transformational change" in individual and business behaviour and travel choices will be required, alongside the pursuit of continued technological innovation, according to the report.

The Scottish Government has commited to reducing car kilometres by 20% by 2030 and the report makes it clear that "substantial behaviour change" is required on car travel, irrespective of whether cars are electric.

It recommends that vehicle demand caused by the decreasing cost of electric fuels must be mitigated through policy such as road user charging and that around 25% of freight goods moved by road must be shifted to rail and ships by 2030.

It also calls for ending the sale of fossil fuel powered ships with retrofitting of existing ship powertrains from the early to mid-2030s and a significant reduction in demand in aviation.

Transport minister Graeme Dey said: “The Programme for Government sets out how we will take Scotland on a green transport revolution and in a way delivers a fairer and healthier Scotland.

"The report we have commissioned from Element Energy sets out what that future could look like, and what policy outcomes are required to support that vision.

“Technology offers us many solutions, and we’re making good progress, but the report is clear that transformational change in travel behaviour is required.

"The role of government, therefore, is to make sustainable travel choices easier, and our Programme for Government commitments support just that."

The Scottish Government is supporting its commitment to reduce car kilometres travelled nationally by 20% by 2030 with free bus travel for under 22’s, over half a billion pounds in bus priority infrastructure and an increase in the active travel budget to 10% of what is spent on transport by the end of this parliament, Day added. 

He said that a 'route-map' outlining further measures to achieve the reduction target will be published later this year, "assuming the Covid-19 pandemic has moved to a phase to allow this".

He also made clear the role Transport Scotland wants the UK Government to play. 

“We are aware that we need to disincentivise car use to encourage people to make more sustainable choices. But the most direct levers here – fuel duty and vehicle excise duty – are reserved. So the UK Government must play its part and use all the levers and powers it has to support us in this endeavour," he said. 

“With COP26 just over a month away, this report makes clear the scale of the challenge ahead of us.  We are committed to cutting emissions in transport at an unprecedented pace, and transforming how we all get around in the future.”

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