Decarbonisation of Transport

The UK is required to achieve Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050. This means the carbon emissions from energy, industry and transport must fall below the amount of carbon taken out of the atmosphere by our forests, peat bogs and any carbon capture technology.

Carbon emissions from transport have only reduced by 3% since 2009 and, as a result, more of the UK’s carbon emissions now come from transport than from any other sector of the economy.

Traffic Pollution

Private cars and taxis currently account for over 50% of these transport emissions, with vans and HGVs together contributing a further 30%. Reducing and decarbonising road transport therefore plays a crucial role in achieving the Net Zero target.

The new era of Local Transport Plans (LTPs) will need to include ambitious Quantifiable Carbon Reductions (QCR) from transport which are consistent with the corresponding local carbon budgets required to achieve the UK’s Net Zero objective.

The Department for Transport are currently preparing technical guidance, and supporting the development of various toolkits, which will help local authorities ensure that their LTPs include effective transport-related carbon reduction strategies, and to help them quantify the expected carbon reductions of their LTPs.

Achieving Net Zero carbon for transport movements will not be easy and will require the development of strategies which encompass a wide range of initiatives and schemes which:

  • Reduce the need to travel outside of our immediate area to access day-to-day services, for example using ‘liveable communities’ concepts.
  • Prioritise the consideration of carbon emissions within our travel decisions.
  • Change the relative real and perceived cost of low carbon and high carbon transport modes and vehicles.
  • Ensure that the pathway to low carbon is equitable and accessible for all of our residents, workers and visitors.

LTPs will need to quantify the impacts of proposed measures on reducing carbon emissions to show the proposed timelines into achieving Net Zero, which may require initiatives that have the greatest impact on achieving the climate emergency goals being prioritised.

There is also an imperative to consider the resilience of our transport networks to the changes which have already been ‘baked in’ to the climate in the coming years by the additional greenhouse gases which have already been emitted, or which will be added between now and the achievement of the Net Zero position.

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