A new report setting out the government’s vision for tackling transport emissions says that 2020 will be a crucial year for establishing new policies and plans, with reducing car use high on the agenda.
The report from the Department for Transport is a scene-setting precursor to the government’s hotly anticipated Transport Decarbonisation Plan, which is due later in 2020. UK transport now has more of an impact on the climate than any other sector, having overtaken energy in 2018.
Key year for transport policy
In the report’s foreword, transport secretary Grant Shapps states that “2020 will be the year we set out the policies and plans needed to tackle transport emissions”. The government’s vision is split into six priorities:
- Public transport and active travel will become the natural first choice for daily activities
- All road vehicles will be zero emission, and technological advances will change the way vehicles are used
- Goods will be delivered through an integrated, efficient and sustainable delivery system
- Clean, place-based solutions will meet the needs of local people
- The UK will be an internationally-recognised leader in environmentally sustainable, low carbon technology and innovation in transport
- The UK will lead the development of sustainable biofuels, hybrid and electric aircraft to lesson the impact of aviation.
Significantly, Grant Shapps concedes in his foreword that a net zero transport systems means “we will use our car less” in future. According to Roger Geffen MBE, policy director at Cycling UK, this is the first time a government minister has openly raised the issue of traffic reduction for over 20 years.
“Talking about traffic reduction is seen as politically difficult. It is of course particularly difficult to do at a time when many people are facing the loss of their livelihoods, due (at least partly) to the loss of freedom to make day-to-day journeys. Nobody wants the current drastic restrictions on our freedom of movement to continue any longer than they have.
“Yet, when we eventually manage to step back and think about the longer-term climate crisis, COVID-19 may turn out to be a moment where we all started to rethink which journeys were really necessary. It is therefore incredibly heartening that Grant Shapps has just become the first UK government minister to talk about traffic reduction since John Prescott in the late 1990s.”
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