To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what reduction in road traffic volumes is expected to result from the increase in road fuel duties announced on 16 March.
The increase in road fuel duties announced on 16 March is aimed at contributing toward the Government's commitment to return overall CO2 emissions from the United Kingdom in the year 2000 to the level recorded in 1990. By 2000, the increase in fuel duties is expected to have reduced road transport emissions of CO2 by about 1.5 million tonnes of carbon (mtC), roughly one-seventh of the required savings. That increase in duties will have a greater effect on fuel consumption (and thus CO2) than on traffic levels. This is because the reduction in traffic is just one of the effects likely to follow from higher fuel prices. We would also expect a variety of improvements in fuel economy to come about—for example, improved driver technique, changes in speed, choice of smaller cars and improvements in vehicle design. Under the minimum duty increases announced, the level of traffic (all motor vehicles) in 2000 would be about 500 bn vehicle km instead of the 510 bn vehicle km forecast using the mid-point of the National Road Traffic Forecasts—a 2 per cent. reduction.