Skip to main content

Transport Decarbonisation

Volume 699: debated on Wednesday 14 July 2021

Transport decarbonisation is a dull way of describing something much more exciting and far-reaching.

Because transport is not just how you get around. It is something that fundamentally shapes our towns, our cities, our countryside, our living standards, our health, and our whole quality of life.

The Transport Decarbonisation Plan that will be published today, the first in the world, is not about stopping people doing things: it is about doing the same things differently. We will still fly on holiday, but in more efficient aircraft, using sustainable fuel. We will still drive on improved roads, but increasingly in zero emission cars. We will still have new development, but it will not force us into high-carbon lifestyles.

Transport is the largest contributor to UK greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), with road transport alone accounting for almost a quarter of our total emissions in 2019. We must deliver a step change in the breadth and scale of our ambition to reduce transport’s GHG emissions to reach net zero. In March 2020, “Decarbonising Transport: Setting the Challenge” committed to bring together a transport decarbonisation plan to deliver transport’s contribution to carbon budgets and net zero across all forms of transport.

The plan published today is genuinely high ambition—technically and feasibly—for all areas of transport and notes that decarbonisation will rely, in part, on future transport technology, coupled with the necessary behavioural and societal change. Because of the pandemic, we are already seeing some of these changes in behaviour happen much faster than expected. We have seen homeworking change traditional commuter and leisure trips, video conferencing has changed business travel and we have seen a rise in cycling and walking all of which could save thousands of tonnes of carbon themselves.

In the 16 months since March 2020, we have published ambitious policies to transform England for cycling and walking with an investment of £2 billion and more than 300 cycling and walking schemes already being delivered. We have published plans to fundamentally reshape our bus network along public service lines and have created Great British Railways to make services easier to use, to grow the network and build on the huge acceleration of electrification we have already seen since 2010.

The commitments set out today include linking local infrastructure funding to solutions that cut emissions—aligning that investment to our net zero programme, improving public transport, increasing support for active travel so mass transit and cycling and walking play a bigger role than ever, a net zero rail network by 2050, net zero domestic aviation emissions by 2040 and leading the transition to green shipping.

The plan also sets out a world-leading pledge to consult on the end of sale of all new, non-zero emission road vehicles by 2040 at the latest.

As a major step towards that, alongside the plan we have published a consultation on phasing out the sale of all new non-zero emission heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) by 2040, demonstrating our commitment to tackle the second largest source of domestic transport carbon emissions and furthering our ambition to decarbonise UK roads.

This comes with a Green Paper, which will set out options for a new regulatory framework requiring vehicle manufacturers to improve the efficiency of new road vehicles. This will allow us to meet our phase out ambitions whilst creating new jobs for the automotive sector and delivering certainty to drivers.

To underpin our petrol and diesel phase out dates and help achieve them, we are also publishing a 2035 Delivery Plan today. This plan brings together all of our committed funding streams and measures for decarbonising cars and vans, from across Government, into a single document. It outlines the key timelines, milestones and how we will monitor progress towards our commitment to deliver mass ownership of zero emission cars and vans.

Leading by example, our decarbonisation plan will increase the level of ambition for the whole central Government fleet, moving the target date for the 40,000-vehicle fleet to be fully zero emission forward to 2027.

Today we are also publishing the Government’s response to the Electric Vehicle Smart Charging consultation. The response commits to laying legislation later this year to ensure that all private EV charge-points meet smart charging standards. The transition to EVs is central to Government’s net zero commitment but will also increase demand on the electricity system. Smart charging can help mitigate these impacts. This legislation will play an important role in driving the uptake of smart technology, which can save consumers money on their energy bills.

We also intend to tackle the challenges of decarbonising the aviation and maritime sectors head on. Today, we are also launching a Jet Zero consultation that commits the aviation sector to a net zero emissions target by 2050 and sets out our approach and principles to achieve this. The consultation focuses on the rapid development of technologies in a way that maintains the benefits of air travel and maximises the opportunities that decarbonisation can bring for the UK.

The decarbonisation plan sets out further commitments for our maritime sector, establishing our ‘Course to Zero’, consulting on how we get more ships plugging in to our decarbonised grid, exploring how we phase out emissions from vessels, and considering how we take advantage of the UK’s strengths in the maritime sector to support growth in green technology and shipbuilding,

The Government are also publishing their Rail Environment Policy statement, which will set the direction for the rail industry on environment issues and inform the forthcoming sustainable rail strategy. The document will look at traction decarbonisation, air quality, decarbonising the rail estate and a range of other environmental-related issues on the railway, including biodiversity and waste.

This suite of announcements marks a major leap forward in delivering ambitions to decarbonise transport and we are the first country in the world to do this, taking a firm leadership position as we host COP26 later this year.

The plan is ambitious, consumer friendly and world leading. It will create economic growth, new industries and jobs and help us build back better and greener.

[HCWS174]