Transport decarbonisation plan is ambitious but lacking in detail, says CIEH

16 July 2021, Ross Matthewman

CIEH has welcomed the publication of the UK Government’s transport decarbonisation plan but called for greater detail in how the policies will be met.

The plan attempts to sets out the Government’s commitments and the actions needed to decarbonise the entire transport system, including the pathway to net zero transport in the UK.

Among some of the key announcements, was a package of support and guidance for local authorities to reduce emissions and build up electric vehicle charging infrastructure

The plan also outlines proposals to ban the sale of all new petrol cars by 2030 and for a consultation on setting phase out dates for all non-zero emission road vehicles, with 2040 as a backstop.

Other measures include a commitment to building a “world class” cycling network in England, the creation of a fleet of new zero-emission buses, and a pledge to work with rail companies to modernise fares.

Tamara Sandoul, Policy and Campaigns Manager at CIEH, said:

“Alongside housing, transport is one of the biggest contributors to carbon emissions. The Government’s transport decarbonisation plan will be key to reducing emissions, air and noise pollution as well as improving the health of people.

There is a lot to be welcomed in this new strategy, in terms of overall direction of travel, however the detailed policies are yet to be worked out. Phase out dates, if set, are to be decided in consultations for buses, coaches and private cars. This means that we are still quite a way away from clarity on how long the most polluting vehicles will be allowed to continue to drive on our roads. The plan does not mention phase out dates for getting older most polluting vehicles off the roads.

Ultimately, when it comes to travel, people make choices based on cost and convenience. Aligning the costs of travel according to whether the mode of transport is low in carbon emissions and pollution, will be key to shifting people away from more polluting transport choices. Costs of travel should be a priority policy area to ensure that shifts to cleaner transport can happen faster. Technological solutions need to be combined with addressing the drivers of behaviour in order to be successful.

The plan mentions the development of several guidance documents and toolkits for local authorities, which are welcome, however, funding is also needed to ensure that local areas are equipped with the resources and expertise they need to draw up ambitious, effective and successful local plans.”

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