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Transport Decarbonisation

Volume 690: debated on Thursday 11 March 2021

What recent steps his Department has taken to help facilitate transport decarbonisation in line with the Government’s commitments (a) to the Paris agreement and (b) for COP26. (913250)

The transport decarbonisation plan will set out transport’s contribution to net zero. We are also delivering ambitious international COP26 campaigns.

When does the Minister consider that there will be enough public charging points available for electric-powered vehicles to ensure that no domestic user requires an internal combustion engine? I would settle for her best estimate of when urban motorists could be fossil-free. How quickly does she think the network can be built?

We have ambitious plans to meet our target dates of phasing out the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030. At the moment, a driver is never more than 25 miles away from a rapid charge point anywhere on England’s motorways, and there are 36 rapid charge points available per 100 miles, but we obviously need to go further. We are working through our rapid charging fund and we will make further announcements very shortly on this topic.

We know that the Government’s road-building expansion will lead to an estimated 270,000 additional tonnes of carbon entering the atmosphere by 2032. However, in an answer to a recent question, the Minister told me that she was content that the Government’s road-building expansion programme was compatible with the net zero target. Will she tell me how she reached that view when the Secretary of State overruled his own civil servants on the need to conduct an environmental review of the policy? And does she agree that if the Government are serious about reaching net zero and setting an example before COP26, that review should be carried out now?

I thank the hon. Lady for her question. She will know that we are serious about decarbonising the entire transport sector. We will publish our transport decarbonisation plan in spring this year, as we have committed to do, which will set out how we will decarbonise the entire sector, including roads. I just say to her that, of course, we do need roads, but we want the vehicles driving on them to be electric, and we are investing in electric vehicles—cars, vans, buses and lorries.

Over a year has gone and we have seen neither hide nor hair of this transport decarbonisation plan, or the national bus strategy, or the £3 billion on green buses. In contrast, Scotland is fast becoming a world leader in transport decarbonisation, with higher take-up of electric cars, an impressive charging network, actual investment in electric buses, on which everyone under the age of 22 is now able to travel free, and a much praised rolling rail electrification scheme. Spring is an elastic term in parliamentary terminology. When will we actually see the decarbonisation plan, and when will we actually see zero-emission buses being ordered?

I remind the hon. Gentleman that we have invested £2.8 billion to support the transition to electric vehicles, and a lot of that money has gone to Scotland. The funds for the plug-in car grants are available UK-wide, and, as I said, we will publish the transport decarbonisation plan in spring, as we have promised.