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Transport Decarbonisation

Volume 697: debated on Thursday 24 June 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. (901736)

The transport decarbonisation plan will set out a pathway to achieving net zero. We are delivering ambitious international COP26 campaigns, including a zero emission vehicles campaign that aims to at least double the pace of the global transition to zero emission vehicles so that all new cars and vans are zero emission by 2040 or sooner; an aviation campaign that will galvanise industry, state and civil society support for international action to reduce the climate impacts of aviation; and a maritime campaign, where we will deliver important cross-sectoral opportunities for significant emissions reductions nationally and internationally.

The Scottish Government have committed to cutting car use by 20% by 2030 and to providing an interest-free loan for first-time buyers of new and used electric vehicles. In contrast, the British Government are cutting the grant for electric vehicle purchases by 50%. Will the Minister explain how that 50% cut in support will help to facilitate the decarbonisation of transport?

I remind the hon. Gentleman that his constituents in Scotland, like those across the UK, have benefited from up to £1.3 billion of support to help them transition to electric vehicles. Shall we look at the facts, Mr Speaker? The plug-in car grant, the home charge grant, the on-street chargers and the workplace chargers are all funded by the UK Government for the benefit of the hon. Gentleman’s constituents and those across the United Kingdom.

I do apologise for the noise. There is a helicopter somewhere overhead. I know it is Transport questions, but it is getting a bit much.

As someone who is regularly stuck in traffic on the A13, I think no one wants to return to the levels of pollution we saw before the pandemic began, particularly as emerging evidence indicates that exposure to air pollution increases the severity of coronavirus symptoms and other respiratory conditions. That is why I am so glad to see the work done by brilliant, publicly run light rail systems such as Tyne and Wear metro and Tramlink, led by fantastic local Labour administrations. Light rail networks are an effective means of reducing congestion and pollution given that they produce next to no pollution at the point of use. What assurances will the Minister give, therefore, to support projects that incorporate light rail, tram trains, and electric and hydrogen buses such as the mass transit system proposed by the new West Yorkshire Combined Authority Mayor?

I hope the hon. Gentleman was listening earlier when I spoke at the Dispatch Box about the support that the Government have provided for the West Midlands Combined Authority, led by the Conservative Mayor Andy Street, for light rail and a number of other transport innovations. The point is, the Government are investing in zero-carbon green transport across the whole country. We intend to build back better and greener from the pandemic, and we will create hundreds of thousands of skilled green jobs across the country as we do so.

The consensus at the Transport Committee yesterday—I include the Minister in this—was that the EV market is immature. Quite why the Government would therefore reduce support when EVs are still a lot more expensive is beyond me. The fact is, they have cut the grant by 50%. In addition to what my hon. Friend the Member for Glenrothes (Peter Grant) said about interest-free loans, in Scotland we have doubled the home charge grant as well. On the decarbonisation plan, last week the Minister said:

“We have done a huge amount of work on the plan…I am not satisfied with the draft because it does not meet the ambition we need in order to reach those incredibly challenging targets.”—[Official Report, 16 June 2021; Vol. 697, c. 117WH.]

Quite how the DFT has done extensive work on it and yet still lacks ambition is beyond me. Will we see the plan before the summer recess—yes or no?