In July, the Government finally published its long-awaited transport decarbonisation plan setting out how it plans to tackle the UK’s biggest emitter of carbon – transport. While other sectors have seen emissions declining in recent years, transport has remained stubbornly high, accounting for more than a quarter of all UK carbon emissions. Clearly, this has to change if we are to reach net-zero by 2050.
At Campaign for Better Transport, we have always supported a move to cleaner fuels, including electrification of the rail network, but we know that, that alone, will not be enough. Even if every car on the road was zero emission, we would still have the problem of air pollution and congestion. To truly tackle emissions we must combine cleaner vehicles with behaviour change and modal shift.
In a document the Government published last year that outlined the challenge it faced in reducing transport emissions, transport secretary Grant Shapps said in his foreword: “Public transport and active travel will be the natural first choice for our daily activities. We will use our cars less and be able to rely on a convenient, cost-effective and coherent public transport network.”
We were very glad to see that this ambition made it into the final plan and that, on the face of it, the Government has placed modal shift at the heart of its plans to decarbonise transport. But are the measures outlined in the plan enough to realise this ambition?