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Blog Post 14 July 2021

An ambitious new decarbonisation plan for transport in England

The Department for Transport has launched its ambitious new Decarbonisation Plan for England, which outlines the steps needed in six strategic areas to reach net zero emissions from transport by 2050.

The pillars include:

  • Accelerating a modal shift to public and active transport.
  • The decarbonisation of road vehicles.
  • Decarbonising how we get our goods, including a transformation of ‘last-mile’ deliveries.
  • Place-based solutions, to consider how and why emissions occur in specific locations.
  • Transforming the UK into a hub for green transport technology and innovation.
  • Leading international efforts to reduce carbon in a global economy.

As part of this vision, the government is today announcing its intention to phase out the sale of new diesel and petrol heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) by 2040, subject to consultation.

Transport is the single biggest contributor to carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the UK, with levels remaining stubbornly at around 25% of all emissions. While the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in reduced travel, as national lockdowns encouraged people to stay at home, emission levels are returning to pre-pandemic levels.

Even as the number and range of electric vehicles (EVs) on the UK’s roads continues to increase, overall emissions from transport do not show signs of falling without stringent measures from government to steer a new course. The Decarbonisation Plan delivers this with an exciting new future for transport in England.

Our transport programmes

In our mission to address the climate emergency, Energy Saving Trust has worked in partnership with the Department for Transport for almost 20 years, providing support and advice to businesses, local authorities and consumers to help decarbonise our transport systems. Some of the pillars outlined in the new Decarbonisation Plan are central to our work and we deliver programmes to help everyone reduce their carbon emissions from transport.

For example, we are working to promote electrification in transport, supporting fleets on their journey towards electric vehicles, managing the process for on street residential changepoints, and distributing grants for ecargo bikes. We support the freight and bus industries with advice, technical expertise and engagement. We released over 400,000 vouchers through the Fix Your Bike scheme, which is encouraging hundreds of thousands of people to get their bikes repaired and back on the road.

Low carbon travel for all

Transport is vital to people’s lives. Although we have travelled less in the past year due to national lockdowns, we’ve had more goods delivered to our homes through online shopping and many of us may be eager to get back on the road and in the air. Transport ensures we have personal freedom to live, work and play wherever we want to, but at the same time, it impacts our health, causes local air pollution, and contributes to the climate emergency.

The Covid-19 pandemic has shown us a different way of living that supports local businesses and encourages walking and cycling to school or the shops. We’ve discovered that long distance travel isn’t always necessary, with business trips rejected in favour of virtual meetings with colleagues around the world. The 20-minute neighbourhood concept has become increasingly attractive, with workplaces, shops and schools accessible on foot or wheels within just 20 minutes. It’s important to remember that our lifestyles affect our emissions; how we work or shop determines our impact on the environment, so new ways of living could be the longer term answer.

The road ahead

So, what’s next? The transition to low carbon transport must be fair, allowing everyone to enjoy the benefits of travelling sustainably, regardless of where you live or how much you earn. This transition will need to include the electrification of transport, more active travel, consolidation of freight, shared mobility and new technologies.

At Energy Saving Trust, we are optimistic and determined to continue to deliver net zero. Through our key partnerships with government, businesses and consumers, we believe there is collective motivation to reach the UK’s net zero emissions target by 2050. We truly welcome the publication of the Department for Transport’s Decarbonisation Plan and will continue to work hard to deliver impactful transport programmes that support the ambitions of the new strategy.

Last updated: 14 July 2021