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Public Transport: Carbon Emissions

Volume 474: debated on Monday 21 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what her Department's strategy is for reducing the dependence of urban public transport on fossil fuels over the next 10 years. (188478)

Following publication of the Department for Transport’s “Towards a Sustainable Transport System” in October 2007, we intend to look at the full range of options for putting transport on to a less carbon-intensive path.

More specifically, we have been considering with stakeholders whether changes to the existing arrangements for the subsidy of bus services, which are the main form of urban public transport, would increase the contribution of buses to delivery of our environmental and other objectives. A key consideration is whether particular subsidy changes would incentivise improvements to the fuel efficiency of the bus fleet and the use of environmentally friendly vehicles. We published on 13 March a consultation document, entitled “Local Bus Service Support—options for reform”, which invites views on our proposals; and copies are available in the Libraries of the House.

The Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation which comes into effect in April 2008 will require the major oil companies and fuel suppliers that supply fossil fuels for road transport to ensure that a proportion of the road fuel supplied in the UK comprises renewable fuels such as biofuels. The level of the obligation will be 2.5 per cent. of total fuel supplied by the supplier in the first year (2008-09), rising to 3.75 per cent. in 2009-10 and 5 per cent. in 2010-11.

We are working with the rail industry to trial the use of biofuels which could, subject to satisfying concerns about carbon benefits and overall sustainability, reduce reliance on conventional fossil fuels. We will also keep under review the case for more strategic electrification of the rail network.

We also support the Commission’s intention to legislate to improve the average g/km carbon dioxide emissions performance of passenger cars. This should reduce use of fossil fuels, both by encouraging use of other fuel sources and by encouraging more efficient use by those vehicles that continue to be powered by oil products. We have pressed the Commission to commit to a target of 100 g/km CO2 average for 2020.