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Transport Decarbonisation

Volume 814: debated on Monday 19 July 2021


The following Statement was made in the House of Commons on Wednesday 14 July.

“Transport decarbonisation is a dull way of describing something much more exciting and far-reaching, because transport is not just about how we get around. It is much more fundamental, as it shapes our towns and cities and our countryside.

Today we are publishing our transport decarbonisation plan, the first in the world, a comprehensive yet urgent strategy to end transport’s contribution to climate change within the next three decades, showing global leadership as we prepare to host COP 26 in November.

It is not about stopping people doing things; it is about doing the same things differently. We still want to fly on holiday, but it will be in more efficient aircraft using sustainable fuel. We will still drive our cars on improved roads, but increasingly with zero emissions. And we will still have new development and additional housing, for example, but through more careful planning we will not be forced into high-carbon lifestyles.

We know the world is running out of time to tackle climate change. Unless we take decisive and radical action now, it will soon be too late to prevent catastrophic damage to our planet, which will also threaten our security and our prosperity. At the same time, terms such as ‘decarbonisation’ and ‘net zero’ seem abstract to many people. This plan argues that transport is not just how people get around but it influences our living standards and, in fact, our whole quality of life.

Transport can shape all these things, for good or for bad. Bad is traffic congestion and pollution, which also contribute to climate change. Indeed, transport is now the single biggest contributor to UK greenhouse gas emissions. Decarbonisation is not a technocratic process; it is how we fix some of that harm. It is how we make sure that transport shapes the country and the economy in ways that are good. It is about taking filth out of the air and creating better places. It is about a second industrial revolution, creating hundreds of thousands of green jobs in places that were the cradle of the first.

Driving all this will be the consumer making greener travel choices informed by better data. The Government will work with industry to meet our carbon budgets and to keep this green transport revolution on track.

What is exciting about the plan is that for the first time we have an opportunity to decarbonise transport without curtailing our freedoms. It will not stop us driving, commuting to work or going on holiday, but we will be using zero-emission cars, motorcycles and trucks. We will be travelling in zero-emission trains, ferries, buses and coaches. We will be cycling and walking much more, and we will be flying in more efficient aircraft, using sustainable aviation fuels.

I accept that, even a few years ago, the vision that we are setting out today would have seemed over-ambitious, but such is the progress that we are making in this country in technology and engineering, in building momentum for the net zero challenge ahead, and in showing real political leadership for the biggest challenge in our lifetime that we can now commit to a bold strategy to help wean transport off fossil fuels and reach net zero in under 30 years. We have already announced that the sale of new cars and vans powered solely by petrol or diesel will cease in 2030, and that all cars and vans will be fully zero emission at the tailpipe by 2035—a commitment that would not have been deliverable while we were a member of the EU, because our own type of proof of framework would have breached the single market had we tried.

To underpin these phase-out dates, today we have published our 2035 delivery plan, which sets out the investment and measures from government to deliver mass ownership of zero-emission cars and vans. We have published a Green Paper, one of 10 documents that sit alongside the transport decarbonisation plan, which shows our new road-vehicle CO2 emissions regulatory framework, which will be ambitious in decarbonising road transport and tailored to the UK’s needs. This could include a zero-emission mandate for manufacturers, so that they sell an ever-increasing proportion of zero-emission vehicles before they can sell any others.

The decarbonisation plan goes further still, with a commitment to consult on a world-leading pledge to phase out sales of all new non-zero emission road vehicles, from motorcycles to heavy goods vehicles. We believe that that should be from 2040 at the latest, and it is a massive step towards cleaning up road transport altogether. By doing so, we will remove the source of more than 90% of our total domestic transport emissions. We will go further, creating a net zero rail network by 2050 and replacing all our diesel-only trains by 2040 with super-clean technologies such as hydrogen. Hundreds of electric buses are already operating in many UK cities, but soon that will be thousands, which will benefit not just urban areas but the whole country. Remote and rural areas that have not always been best served by such changes in the past will see the benefits this time.

Completely clean buses will form the backbone of our local public transport system, and we will continue to work with industry to roll out a national electric vehicle charging network as I announced at the Dispatch Box. Nearly 25,000 public charging devices have already been installed, including more chargers for every 100 miles of major, key strategic road than any country in Europe. That will include smart vehicle charging to reduce energy bills when demand for electricity in the system is at its lowest. Something that will also benefit will be the Government’s fleet of 40,000 vehicles, which we aim to make fully electric by 2027.

We will consult on phasing out sales of new, non-zero-emission-capable domestic ships too, and we will be a hub for green air travel. Today, we have launched a consultation that sets out how we will deliver net zero aviation by 2050, working with the Jet Zero Council with a target to achieve zero-emission transatlantic flight within our generation. If that seems more like science fiction, it is interesting to know that we have already flown the world’s first zero-carbon hydrogen aircraft at Cranfield airport in Bedfordshire. It took a 20 minute flight—another world-first for Britain.

We will support and incentivise green development by aligning billions of pounds of infrastructure investment with our net zero programme. This includes the billions we are investing to build a thriving electric supply chain, to secure gigafactories here in the UK, to create more efficient aviation engines, lighter planes and sustainable fuels and to develop clean freight transport. Just as green transport will not stop us travelling, it will not hold back industry either. In fact, it will open up unparalleled opportunities for new jobs and enterprise. In recent weeks alone, we have seen both Nissan and Vauxhall commit to massive investments in electric vehicles and battery production in Sunderland and Ellesmere Port. This is the modern-day equivalent of the early investment in our railway 200 years ago or, indeed, in our fledgling motor industry a century later. What we are seeing here is the start of a second greener industrial revolution, which, just like the first, will be driven by transport, but this time delivering triple the benefits: for our economy, for jobs and for the future of our planet.

But we cannot simply rely on technology. Nor can we believe that zero-emission vehicles will solve all our problems, because they will not, especially in meeting our medium-term targets for the 2030s. The pandemic has provided a chance to rethink how we travel and how we do public transport. In fact, we have already seen a 46% increase in the number of road miles being cycled last year, the biggest increase since the Second World War. Cycling increased more in a single year than in the previous 20 years put together. With £2 billion of new funding, more than 300 cycling and walking schemes are being delivered, and many more are on the way. We have also pledged £3 billion to revolutionise local buses in England outside London, with London-style cheap flat fares and integrated ticketing. And of course we are creating Great British Railways, to bring the railway network back together and make it easier for people to travel by train. We want to make public transport, cycling and walking the natural first choice for all who can use them.

The year 2050 may seem like a long way into the future, but it is just 29 years away. That is why the pace of change will be unparalleled, and why this new decarbonisation plan is a landmark in the evolution of the way we do transport in this country. We are the first country in the world to do this, taking a firm leadership position as we host COP 26 later this year in Glasgow and going from being part of the climate change problem to a major part of the solution. That is the transformation we must deliver by 2050, and that is the transformation we will achieve with this transport decarbonisation plan. I am placing a copy of the plan in the Library of the House, and I commend this Statement to the House.”

The Climate Change Committee recently commented on the need for a proper plan from the Government to deliver on their net-zero targets. Britain is behind on its goal for a 78% cut to greenhouse gases by 2035. Transport is now the biggest contributor to UK emissions. In the decade 2009-19, transport emissions fell by 1% only and there is no detail in this delayed decarbonisation plan to show how it will address the problem in the transport sector of the ever-greater pace that is now needed.

The Government now appear to be further upgrading targets on which they are already behind. Diesel and petrol lorries are to be banned in Britain by 2040 and all types of transport will be decarbonised by 2050, yet zero-emissions heavy lorries are still an aspiration rather than a reality, according to the Road Haulage Association. It is not clear who is going to meet the bill for this transition or what it is likely to be.

The Government have committed themselves to net-zero internal UK flights by 2040 but, once again, there is a gap between aspiration and reality with regard to sustainable aviation fuels and hydrogen aircraft delivering by 2040, and overcoming the need to fly less to achieve targets. Again, there is the issue of who will foot the bill for the transition and what it is likely to be. Rather than take urgent action to electrify rail, the Government cancel or defer electrification schemes. Rather than support consumers to purchase electric vehicles and create a nationwide network of electric vehicle charging points, the Government, once again, delay key decisions on all these crucial issues.

The Commons Public Accounts Committee said that the UK faces a “huge challenge” to get to 100% electric car sales by the target date, and commented on the lack of any kind of government plan to manage this major transition. That includes a plan for charging infrastructure, in particular to address the serious disparity in charger availability across the regions, and for sufficient publicly accessible chargers across the country, as a third of UK households with cars park on the street.

We will not be able to reach net-zero emissions without properly supporting the shift to electric vehicles, yet the amount given out to local authorities to fund charge point installation more than halved last year. What are the Government doing to ramp up the rollout of charging infrastructure in the UK? Will they support our plans to provide interest-free loans to help drivers purchase electric vehicles? Why are the Government allowing the sale of new polluting hybrids until 2035, which means they will be on our roads for many years to come?

During the pandemic, large numbers of people took advantage of quieter streets to take up cycling—many for the first time. Surely, we want to embed this behavioural change in seeking to reduce emissions, so why have the Government been so slow to release the funding for active travel they promised last year?

There is also little that is new in the plan to promote walking or cycling, or to help our public transport services recover after a devastating 16 months, during which the Government seem to have done their utmost to revive travel by car and supress travel by bus and rail. The continued wearing of face masks would help restore confidence in travel by train and bus. Instead, the Government say there is no longer requirement to do so and it is just tough on other people who are deterred from travelling as a result. It is contradictory of the Government to talk about reducing emissions from aviation when they are looking at reducing air passenger duty and have instigated inflation-busting increases in rail fares, and to say they are serious about reducing road traffic emissions when they have been promoting a £27 billion road-building programme.

Road transport in the UK releases the same amount of greenhouse gases as it did in 1990. A recent analysis by the consumer group Which? also found that train fares on eight out of 10 popular UK routes were some 50% more expensive than plane fares, despite 80% lower carbon dioxide emissions. The cross-party Environmental Justice Commission has published a manifesto for hitting targets for net-zero carbon emissions, which includes a recommendation to upgrade local public transport. What is the Government’s policy on the future level of rail fares compared to other more polluting forms of transport? What is the Government’s decarbonisation policy on local transport fares? Do the Government agree with the Climate Change Committee that investment in roads should be contingent on their compatibility with the UK’s net-zero target? If so, why are they pressing ahead with their £27 billion road-building programme, or are they now reviewing it?

The decarbonisaton plan refers to numerous consultation exercises on achieving the targets, which would appear to be an admission in itself that there is as yet no clear and credible policy on what exactly needs to be done and by whom, and at what cost and to whom, to deliver these targets. On the transport front, the Government surely also have to create an acceptance across the nation as a whole to walk, cycle and use public transport more and to drive less if we are to play our part in limiting global heating to 1.5 degrees centigrade. The Secretary of State said in the Commons last week:

“We want to make public transport, cycling and walking the natural first choice for all who can use them.”—[Official Report, Commons, 14/7/21; col. 406.]

The plan does not spell out how this objective will be achieved, what needs to change or how to bring it about.

Recent catastrophic climate events in Canada, America and across the channel in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands have shown the true urgency of the need to address climate change now, not tomorrow. Setting dates and making assumptions about the pace and extent of technological advances to deliver in line with aspirational target dates does not constitute a carefully thought-through policy that sets out hard and credible evidence in support of the plan’s projections and assumptions or a realistic assessment of the welcome increase in British jobs that should be created. Government rhetoric and aspiration are no substitute for firm, specific and credible policy. We have again had the former in this decarbonisaton plan; we still await the arrival of the latter.

My Lords, there is no doubting the need for this transport decarbonisation plan and for that reason it is welcome. Transport is now the biggest single source of CO2 emissions in the UK. Other sectors have managed significant reductions over recent decades, but improvements on transport have been marginal. That is the worrying thing about this plan, because it relies far too heavily on technological solutions. I looked in vain for reference to some of the more difficult choices that are needed.

The Statement reminds us that we are running out of time to tackle climate change and refers to the need to

“take decisive and radical action now”.

Then it goes on to promise that we can all carry on doing the same things: we can still fly to go on holiday, for instance, and technology will come to the rescue by 2050. The events of the last few weeks should surely have taught us that this is a climate emergency. As Canada burns and hundreds drown in Germany and Belgium, surely we must wake up to the need for rapid change.

The Statement has an almost fairytale quality to it, with far too many vapid “world-first” and world-beating references, which undermine the genuinely good aspects of this document. When it comes to transport decarbonisation, we are not in the world’s top tier. Noble Lords need not believe me on all this; the noble Lord, Lord Deben, has complained of too many long-term targets and a lack of short-term milestones, which are essential to make them meaningful.

The Rail Delivery Group makes the point that, if the Government want people to make greener travel choices, they must make use of the levers they have at their disposal to motivate public action. Rail, for instance, carries 10% of passenger miles but only 1.4% of transport emissions, so it is a climate-change winner; but only 38% of the network is electrified. Amazingly, the Government are currently consulting on cutting domestic air passenger duty. The RDG estimates that just a 50% cut in APD would lead to almost a quarter of a million fewer long-distance train journeys, with people shifting to flying as the cheaper option, leading to an additional 27,000 tonnes of carbon emissions.

The Government should use tax levers to make flying less attractive, not more. Funding for railways needs to concentrate on cheaper tickets, simpler fare structures and on making it easier to walk up and go. France has legislated to prevent short-distance flights for journeys under two and a half hours by rail, and the UK should follow this lead. The Government’s first priority must be to use taxation and their own policies to get us back on the buses and trains, which are by far the most carbon-efficient means of transport. That means subsidies, ending the ridiculous 10-year freeze on fuel duty and a change in taxation.

The Government need to look beyond the transport industry to taxation on sources of power. The rail industry is being penalised for moving from diesel to electric and now pays 40% of its electricity costs in taxes, whereas 10 years ago it was only 12%. Meanwhile, air passengers pay a much smaller proportion of their fares as climate-related costs. The Government still have a £27 billion road-building programme, which simply must be reviewed if their plan is to be credible. With their current targets, there will still be many petrol and diesel cars on our roads into 2050 and beyond. The pandemic has encouraged us all back to our cars and we need the Government to be bold to reverse that.

Technology has its place, and there may well be occasional bonuses to be derived from unexpected advances, but it cannot be the sole answer. The Government cannot shirk from grappling with the difficult behaviour change in choices. They can dream up all the targets they like, but they are meaningless unless the Government develop a sense of urgency, stop promising us lots of goodies and start actually doing something.

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, and the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, for their input into this crucial moment in transport decarbonisation. It is the first time that any Government have taken a holistic and cross-modal approach to transport decarbonisation. It is the first plan of its type in the world. We have set out what we need to do and how we will end transport’s contribution to climate change in the next three decades.

As the Secretary of State for Transport said in the other place, this is not about stopping people doing things, banning things and all those things that the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, is so keen on. It is about doing things differently. The plan is very much about taking the abstract—getting carbon out of our economy—and putting it into reality with actions, commitments and timings. Of course, there are many co-benefits to decarbonisation—we can have healthier and greener streets—and those too are very important.

The noble Lord, Lord Rosser, seemed to imply that consultation was somehow a bad idea. He complains that when the Government consult on this they have not made a decision. If I stood here and said that the Government had made a decision on something without consultation, I can imagine the response from your Lordships’ House, and it would not be good. Consultation is key for so many of these elements, and when we published the plan it was really heartwarming to see it widely welcomed by stakeholders from all across transport. That is because the strategic themes set out therein are so important.

As noted by the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, the first strategic theme is to accelerate

“modal shift to public and active transport”.

That is precisely what he said we were not doing, but we are—it is our number one strategic theme. The second is decarbonising road transport. We know that in transport itself, roads and road vehicles are the source of the greatest amount of emissions. The next theme of decarbonising how we get our goods—whether rail freight or road freight—will be really key in the future, as is establishing the UK

“as a hub for green transport technology and innovation”.

It is often omitted, but place-based solutions will be key. National Government cannot do this on their own; they will be reliant upon interventions from local transport authorities. Finally, on reducing carbon in a global economy, we are a leader, particularly for maritime and aviation. With those strategic themes in mind, I think the plan is a good one.

I will turn to a few more comments that the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, and the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, made. We recognise that charging infrastructure will be one of the biggest challenges of our time, which is why we have committed £1.3 billion to ensure that we can decarbonise charging at home, in businesses and in public places. The Government will publish an electric vehicle infrastructure strategy later this year. That will set out exactly how we plan to take charging forward. We have also published our response to the consultation on smart charging, so we will lay regulations in the autumn. Therefore, all private devices will be required to be smart devices. That will benefit the energy network as a whole.

The noble Lord, Lord Rosser, talked about how he was not entirely happy with the transition between the 2030 phase-out date for petrol and diesel and the 2035 one for zero emissions at the tail-pipe. That is exactly why we published the Green Paper on the carbon dioxide regulatory framework, because we want to engage with people as to exactly what that transition will look like between 2030 and 2035. We have two big options. We could tighten efficiency-based regulations to align with the petrol and diesel phase-outs, or we could do that and make a zero-emission mandate. It is the case that carbon dioxide targets alone do not guarantee the take-up of zero-emission vehicles, or indeed that the 2030 target can be enforced. We would welcome feedback from all noble Lords on that. Within that, there will be a consultation on what vehicles should be in scope—what does it look like between 2030 and 2035? We want to hear feedback, because then we will set the most ambitious targets that we can.

The noble Lord seems not to have been reading my Twitter feed recently, which is disappointing. He said that we were not supporting public transport as we come out of the pandemic. Again, that is not entirely right. I have managed to secure well over £200 million-worth of funding for buses—that will take the bus network through to April next year—and only last week a further £56 million for the light rail sector, which will make sure that our really important tram and light rail systems can continue to operate and provide the really important services they do.

More widely, upgrading local public transport is really important. Again, buried in the small print of the transport decarbonisation plan is something that made me very excited as the Minister for Places in the Department for Transport. We will ask local authorities to provide quantifiable carbon reductions as part of their local transport planning and funding. That is game-changing; it really is. It sounds very dull but it really is not, because when local transport authorities look to do their long-term transport plans they will need to put decarbonisation at their heart. If they do that alongside their bus service improvement plans and all the other transport planning they do, it will be really key for the future.

Before I sit down I will address the phrase that is so often bandied about: the “£27 billion road-building programme”. I do not know what the noble Lord and the noble Baroness are talking about. It is a programme that provides for the operation of the roads. Therefore, traffic officers, maintenance of the roads to ensure that they are safe for users, and the renewal of our bridges, a lot of which are now about 50 years’ old and need a lot of work, are included in all that. Then there is some money for enhancements. I again press the noble Lord and the noble Baroness: if they have any particular enhancements they wish me to scrub off the list, I will be very happy for them to mention them in the House next time and I will consider them.

To go back to roads—this is about not just the strategic road network but all roads—the point is that carbon is a key consideration for all road enhancement projects. When I receive the business case about whether to invest taxpayer funding into a road, we always look at carbon alongside safety, the economic case, air quality and biodiversity. All those things are taken into account when we make decisions on road investments.

I am grateful to the noble Lord and the noble Baroness for their comments. I look forward to talking about this in greater detail in the coming months.

My Lords, we now come to the 20 minutes allocated for Back-Bench questions. I ask that questions and answers be brief so that I can call the maximum number of speakers.

My Lords, I welcome the Government’s long-awaited transport decarbonisation plan, which includes shipping and aviation, but I have to ask them why they are spending less on innovation and research in the maritime sector than in automotive and aviation. The plan contains no headline commitments and no money to get on with the task confronting the marine industry. It is all very well to set ambitious targets, but the plan does not set out a clear way to meet them. There are elements of jam tomorrow. For example, the plan recognises the need to install shore power points around the coast, but why delay? Why not start now? Other countries have done it through joint investment by industry and government. Converting trucks to run on electricity will not help reduce congestion on our—

I thank the noble Lord, Lord Greenway, for his many questions. Maritime is absolutely critical to our decarbonisation. At the moment, maritime is, unfortunately, very polluting. This is why we already have a lot of work under way. We published the Clean Maritime Plan in July 2019. We have committed £20 million for the clean maritime development competition. We are consulting on steps to support the uptake of shore power and, if necessary, we will mandate it. Clearly, the consultation needs to take place before we go around putting lots of plugs in ports.

My Lords, the Government may congratulate themselves on making “a world-leading pledge” on the sale of non-zero-emission road vehicles by 2040, but the people of this country will mainly be interested in the costs of achieving it, both to them individually and to the Exchequer. When will the Government publish a detailed plan answering this question, including the many costs to consumers, drivers and the 6 million businesses in the UK?

The Government have, of course, published the 2035 delivery plan for electric vehicles. The costs will vary significantly over time. We know what they are the moment. The Government are providing grants to people when they purchase their zero-emission vehicles. Over time those costs will change because innovation will lead to an overall reduction in the cost of electric cars. We will of course keep those costs under consideration.

My Lords, why is there no frequent flyer levy and why does the decarbonisation plan say nothing about demand management for flying?

My Lords, as I said, the Government do not want to set a demand cap because it sends entirely the wrong signal. We are anti-emission, not anti-flying. We believe there will be a rapid development of technology. The more we can set out our stall as to what our expectations are, the more we expect that development to increase.

My Lords, what assessment have the Government made of the potential for green hydrogen in decarbonising the maritime sector?

The noble Lord is quite right. Hydrogen will have many uses, mostly where batteries simply cannot reach. That will include heavy road freight, maritime and aviation. Therefore, we are looking very closely at what we can do for the hydrogen sector as a whole. We are funding the refuelling network and demonstration trials. I would have thought that some of the £20 million for the clean maritime demonstration competition might well go to hydrogen projects. It is really important that we remain technology agnostic. We believe that hydrogen could have a key role to play.

My Lords, the Government’s transport decarbonisation plan rightly recognises that hydrogen has the co-benefits of reducing CO2 emissions and creating jobs and growth. Will the Minister therefore confirm that the Government will take ambitious action on the renewable transport fuel obligation? Can she confirm that the bus service operator grant to stimulate millions of pounds of investment in hydrogen production will apply only to green electricity and green hydrogen to accelerate the introduction of zero-emission buses, trains, trucks, ships and planes, all of which can be made in the UK?

The noble Baroness mentioned the bus services operator grant, which is key. Within the transport decarbonisation plan we set our plans for a green BSOG, an intervention that we believe will come into place in April 2022, but we will have a wider consultation on BSOG as a whole because at the moment it is a fossil fuel subsidy. It does not do what it is supposed to do, and therefore we need to make sure that it does in future and does not support fossil fuel use but encourages zero-emission buses.

I warmly congratulate the Minister and her colleagues on putting the strategy together. Does she agree that net zero HGVs by 2040 is aggressive? Can batteries ever be the complete solution given range restrictions versus the trade-off of the weight of the batteries versus the truck payload? I understand why it makes sense to use hydrogen to store excess electricity and manage peaks and troughs, but building in an assumption that it replaces a large baseload volume of energy, which is currently taken up by diesel, by 2040 is surely another stretch.

I have not addressed the HGV issue as yet, and it is important. That is why we are consulting: we believe there needs to be a date from which non-zero HGVs will not be able to be sold. There is another issue which we want to consult on—increasing the permissible weights for zero electric and alternatively fuelled HGVs down the road—but HGVs produce 16% of carbon emissions and we must do something about it. We are looking 15 to 20 years in the future. Leyland DAF already manufactures a 19-tonne battery electric HGV. We expect development to continue apace. That may well include hydrogen.

My Lords, despite the maritime sector being economically larger than aviation and rail combined, it appears to be the poor relative in the Government’s net-zero drive. If we are to level up our coastal communities and bring shipbuilding home, we need the Government to invest in research and innovation on a scale similar to the automotive and aviation sectors. I hope something can be done in the autumn spending review to put the investment in place to do it. I shall push the Minister a little further on shore power points, which, after all, are very straightforward. How many are currently planned to be put in place? Can she confirm that they will be funded by industry and government together?

Unfortunately the noble Lord is pushing me beyond my knowledge, but I will write to him about shore power points, how many there will be in future and who will fund them. On maritime as a whole, it is worth saying that the conversation has only just started. We must work with stakeholders on a course to zero for the maritime sector. We will increase our ambitions at the IMO, particularly when there is a review of greenhouse gas strategy in 2023. There are all sorts of things that we can do. This is the start of the story, not the end.

In view of what is likely to be a chronic shortage of HGV drivers that will persist for years, will the Government urgently look again at investing in rail-freight schemes, particularly electrification schemes, which would replace road-based journeys with rail?

The Government recognise how important rail freight is and we will be doing more work on it. We will be looking to introduce a greater target for rail freight. The noble Lord will know—we have had this conversation many times—that the Government have already invested significant sums of money in rail-freight building, and we will continue to build on the £235 million that we invested in the strategic freight network in the five years to 2019. Work is under way and there are already grants to help the shift from road to rail where road has a slight financial advantage.

My Lords, how many gigawatts per annum of battery production will be required to supply the UK automotive industry by 2030, when all new cars will be battery powered, and how does this number compare with current and planned domestic production capacity? Can the Minister also tell us whether the Government have a strategy for sourcing the critical raw materials for domestic battery production in the face of competition from other countries?

My Lords, this is rapidly turning into “Mastermind”. I cannot give the noble Lord the numbers he is after. I will go back to the department and see whether I can find any further information. It is important to understand that the Government are already investing significantly in the area of batteries. We have the £330 million Faraday battery challenge and the automotive transformation fund, which is £500 million focused on the supply chain. It has already invested in 50 feasibility projects. It will look at all elements of how we are going to make our electric vehicle production more effective.

My Lords, James Bond’s next car will be the Aston Martin Valhalla, a plug-in hybrid supercar, but since 007 has no off-street parking and there are so few charging points available, he might have no choice but to ask Q for his petrol-engined DB10 back. Huge numbers of people cannot contemplate buying even a plug-in hybrid, let alone a fully electric car, even when they really want to, because we do not have anything like the necessary number of public charging points. With only eight and a half years to go before a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars, what plans do the Government have for serious acceleration in the delivery of the necessary charging infrastructure?

My Lords, the Government empathise with James Bond and indeed with all people who do not have access to off-street parking. It is one of the challenges that we face. That is why the Government introduced the on-street residential charge point scheme—the ORCS. It is available to all UK local authorities to provide public charge points for their residents. So far it has awarded money to 120 local authorities to install nearly 4,000 charge points. I reassure my noble friend that the electric vehicle infrastructure strategy will be published later this year, and I think that will provide more reassurance to James Bond and everyone else.

My Lords, the Government’s build back better strategy acknowledges the UK’s persistent technical skills shortage. The Automotive Council estimates the current need for upskilling at 10,000 workers, rising to 50,000 in four years and 100,000 by 2035. The Statement and plan today merely talk about building a skilled workforce for the transport industry, but how? Where is the action plan? Where is the sense of urgency? Can the Minister tell us what she and her department are doing to galvanise the production of an action plan to address these catastrophic shortfalls?

The noble Baroness is quite right. In many areas, and as we shift to a decarbonised economy, we will need greater skills. The Department for Transport is working very closely with our colleagues in the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department for Education to build that strategy.

My Lords, the two big blocks to people adopting electric vehicles, now that so many are available at high quality, are access to a charger and cost. The Minister mentioned the on-street charger support given to some local authorities, but not all have taken it up. For those with off-street parking, there is a subsidy for the charge box, but people are not guaranteed any help for on-street charging through, for example, a lamppost. Can the Government speed that up? At the same time, can they give certainty to businesses that there will be continuing support for electric vehicles through support for low levels of benefits-in-kind tax?

I think I have gone as far as I can on charging. We recognise that it is one of the greatest challenges facing the take-up of electric vehicles. My colleague the Minister for the Future of Transport is working diligently on making sure that we have the right plan in place for the £1.3 billion we will be investing in it over the next four years. That will be set out in the electric vehicle infrastructure strategy.

My Lords, one option for reducing CO2 emissions, of course, is to travel less. The Government could make it easy for people not to travel—that is, go into the office—if they do not want to, by making sure they have a high-quality internet connection. Is that something the Government are stressing at the moment?

The noble Baroness is quite right: we want people to travel the right amount, whatever that may be. The Government certainly have very ambitious plans when it comes to broadband connectivity. We want to roll it out to as many places as possible so that people can work from home if it is right for them and their employer.

My Lords, I think the noble Lord, Lord Krebs, is entitled to a slightly more detailed response. Can the Minister tell us what the Government’s plans are for the encouragement of the development of gigafactories in all parts of the United Kingdom and what the optimum number of electric vehicles would be by 2035 in order to meet the targets?

I will provide more information to the noble Lord, Lord Krebs, and share it with all noble Lords with an interest. The Government are dedicated to securing gigafactories, working with investors within the UK. We hope to have seven 20-gigawatt gigafactories—I am not sure I have that right—very soon. It is absolutely key to the future for electric vehicles.

My Lords, for the avoidance of doubt, will the Minister confirm whether hydrogen will be prioritised for hard-to-abate sectors such as shipping or heavy goods vehicles, rather than for areas that are relatively easy to decarbonise?

This entire plan has tried to recognise that there is no one size fits all when it comes to decarbonisation. As I have already set out, hydrogen will be absolutely key when it comes to heavy road freight, maritime, aviation and maybe rail. We will also look to battery to decarbonise much of the traffic currently on the road. We recognise that to do this we need the right supply of batteries, all the components that go into batteries and the skills to produce the vehicles.