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Road Transport Emissions

Volume 647: debated on Thursday 11 October 2018

As the hon. Gentleman will know, the Government’s mission is for all new cars and vans to be effectively zero emission by 2040. The Road to Zero strategy, which we published in July, sets out a wide range of actions that have been taken to achieve that goal, as well as steps to drive down emissions from conventional vehicles in the meantime. Those measures involve about £1.5 billion of investment.

The recent National Infrastructure Commission report identified Accrington as the most congested town in the country. Has the Minister read that report, and does he recognise that fact? Will he meet my local authority to try to find a resolution, and what outcome to that problem would he like to see?

Yes I have—not only have I read the report, but I have talked to Sir John Armitt, head of the National Infrastructure Commission, about the implications of the work it is doing. I would be delighted to meet the hon. Gentleman. This is the first I have heard about the issue from him, but if he wants to come and bring with him representatives from his local authority, he is welcome to have that conversation.

This month’s United Nations climate change report offers a chilling glimpse of the apocalypse of drought, flooding and human displacement that we face should global warming not be restricted to 1.5 °C. Given the contribution made by road transport to the UK’s greenhouse emissions, was the Prime Minister’s boast yesterday that fuel duty has been frozen for seven years, at a cost of £46 billion, ill-judged? Has the Secretary of State failed to provide the leadership necessary for the road transport sector to play its full part in reducing emissions?

I will leave the Secretary of State to answer for himself in future questions and conversations, but there cannot be much doubt that the goal is to balance the effective use of all modes of transport with the important need to make a transition to low emissions as fast as possible. We are doing so at a great pace, and the hon. Gentleman will be aware of the many decisions that have been taken about improving air quality across the country, of the zero emission vehicle summit that we held in September, and of the Birmingham declaration that was world-leading in bringing other countries to the table.

The reality is that the policies of this Government have directly increased harmful emissions from road transport. Bus funding has been slashed, plug-in car grants cut, and there is chaos in the transition to electric motor vehicles and trains. Will the Secretary of State wake up and accept that he cannot continue to crawl along in the slow lane when it comes to tackling climate change?

I apologise for being the same person that I was when I answered the previous question and not the Secretary of State, but let me pick up on the hon. Gentleman’s points. In August, 12% of new vehicles were electric, and that is because electric vehicles are beginning a fast S-curve of take-up. They have been heavily supported by this Government, and they will continue to be so supported.[Official Report, 15 October 2018, Vol. 647, c. 5MC.]