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 published on the 14 July 2021, the first in the world, is not about stopping people doing things: it’s 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 won’t 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’ve seen homeworking change traditional commuter and leisure trips, video conferencing has changed business travel and we’ve 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’ve 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 chargepoints 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 is also publishing its 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.
Industry Comment – Volta Trucks
Volta Trucks, a leading and disruptive full-electric commercial vehicle manufacturer and services provider, has issued a guarded welcome to the publication of the UK Government’s Transport Decarbonisation Plan, but has called for a greater level of ambition to tackle the climate and air quality emergency faced by the environment.
Chief Executive Officer of Volta Trucks, Essa Al-Saleh, said; “The publication of the UK Government’s Transport Decarbonisation Plan is welcome because it gives British fleet operators and buyers a level of certainty that didn’t previously exist. That said, the ban on internal combustion engine trucks by 2040 is nearly 20 years away, and today’s climate emergency cannot wait. Trucks account for less than 2% of road vehicles but 22% of CO2 emissions from road transport, and the relative share of truck emissions is certain to increase as emissions from passenger cars are driven downwards by the surge in the sales of electric cars.
“It’s therefore disappointing that the UK Government hasn’t been as ambitious as the French authorities, for example, who have banned diesel engine trucks from the streets of Paris and other large city centres by the end of 2023. This type of progressive legislation, twinned with incentives, is what’s needed to accelerate the migration to zero emission large commercial vehicles. The Volta Zero is the first purpose-built full electric large commercial vehicle designed specifically for logistics within city centres where air quality is at its worst. We will begin customer trials in London and Paris next year ahead of the start of full-scale production by the end of 2022. This will ensure we can meet our customer’s demands, and the needs of the wider population, to have full-electric zero emission commercial vehicles available in the market as soon as possible.”
Industry Comment – SMMT
Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “The automotive sector welcomes the publication of the Transport Decarbonisation Plan and associated consultations, which are necessary to create a clear and supportive framework to accelerate the transition to net zero mobility. The industry is already delivering with an ever-expanding range of electrified vehicles which are being bought in ever greater numbers. However, achieving net zero cannot rely solely on the automotive sector. Massive investment, not least in infrastructure, is necessary and must be delivered at accelerated pace, for which we still await a plan and equally ambitious targets. Crucially, we must maintain a strong and competitive market that ensures the shift to electrified vehicles is affordable for all.”
PASSENGER CAR AND VAN STATEMENT
“The electric revolution must be accessible and affordable for all. The right regulatory framework can give drivers the confidence to switch, and manufacturers the clarity they need to invest. However, the ambitions are incredibly high and the timeline tight, so any regulation must be backed by a package of measures that accelerate market uptake through consumer incentives, as well as an irreversible commitment to the expansion of charging infrastructure and rapid energy decarbonisation, so we’re not putting brown energy into green cars and vans.”
HEAVY COMMERCIAL VEHICLE STATEMENT
“The industry is developing many types of zero-emission technologies for heavy commercial vehicles, with electric, hydrogen and other alternative fuel options available. However, the technologies are still in their infancy – so if the UK wants to be a leader in uptake, government must provide the right incentives and infrastructure so hauliers don’t defer their decarbonising decision to the last minute. Plus, given these vehicles operate across borders, we need to ensure the solutions work both for the UK and our close international markets.”
Industry Comment – BVRLA
The plans being launched show the Government’s determination to deliver on its zero emission transport targets.
“The ambitious timescales involved in the phase-outs for the sale of polluting cars, vans and trucks leave little room for error. It is vital that the policymakers continue to engage with a wide cross-section of road users to understand the risks, challenges and opportunities that are being thrown up by this swift transition.
“Today’s ‘Greenprint’ provides some essential clarity and certainty for road users, but there are still major questions that need answering, including what longer-term plans the Government has for motoring taxation.”
Cited in the Transport Secretary’s announcement, Gerry Keaney says:
“We welcome the publication of these plans, which provides a clearer picture of where we are and where we need to get to on the road to net zero.
BVRLA members will play a vital role in this journey, enabling millions of individuals and businesses to embrace zero emission road transport and switch to more sustainable forms of mobility.
There will be many important milestones along the way and we will continue to work with government and other stakeholders in achieving them.”
Industry Comment – Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions
Jon Lawes, Managing Director of Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions, commented:
“Whilst it’s positive that the Government’s Transport Decarbonisation Plan has committed to phase out dates for all non-zero emission road vehicles, we must follow through with robust policies, such as the potential ZEV mandate, to ensure that the automotive industry meets these targets and the rising demand for ZEVs from businesses and consumers.
“With manufacturing initiatives such as Stellantis’ announcement that its first dedicated EV factory in Europe will be at Ellesmere Port, the UK is in a strong position to significantly ramp up its EV production in the coming years. Introducing a ZEV mandate would be a milestone policy to encourage all manufacturers to consider their vehicle output and establish ambitious strategies to phase out petrol and diesel vehicles.”