Government unveils transport decarbonisation plan for cleaner air and healthier communities

The Government has launched a ‘groundbreaking’ transport decarbonisation plan, aiming to create cleaner, quieter cities and communities.

The plan provides a ‘greenprint’ to cut emissions from our seas and skies, roads and railways, setting out a pathway for the whole transport sector to reach net zero by 2050. As part of this vision, the Government has announced its intention to phase out the sale of new diesel and petrol heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) by 2040, subject to consultation.

With investment already pledged including £2 billion in cycling and walking and £2.8 billion to support industry and motorists to make the switch to cleaner vehicles, the Government said the transport decarbonisation plan also sets out how it will improve public transport and increase support for active travel.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “Transport is not just how you get around. It is something that fundamentally shapes our towns, cities and countryside, our living standards and our health. It can shape all those things for good or for bad. Decarbonisation is not just some technocratic process. It’s about how we make sure that transport shapes quality of life and the economy in ways that are good.

“It’s 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, but increasingly in zero emission cars. The Transport decarbonisation plan is just the start – we will need continued efforts and collaboration to deliver its ambitious commitments, which will ultimately create sustainable economic growth through healthier communities as we build back greener.”

However, the IPPR has call the transport decarbonisation plan a ‘missed opportunity’ to cut overall car use. Its Environmental Justice Commission calls for more focus on clean affordable alternatives to EVs, including free local public transport.

Luke Murphy, head of the IPPR Environmental Justice Commission, said: “The Government’s proposals to phase out the sale of new diesel and petrol heavy goods vehicles are welcome, as is the consultation on a potential industry mandate for zero-emission vehicles.

“However, though we await the detail, there appears to be little additional funding to support the switch to more affordable and clean transport alternatives to cut overall car use. This would be a missed opportunity to put in place a new approach to how we all travel, with solutions benefiting wellbeing, health and environment.

“We need to massively expand the provision of and affordability of clean public transport options, such as trains, buses and trams, while helping more people to regularly walk and cycle, alongside a shift to electric vehicles for those that need them. We also need to see a firm commitment from the Government to review the £27 billion roads programme, including schemes that are currently planned as well as future ones.

“The Environmental Justice Commission’s report, out today, calls for a significant step-change in investment to upgrade local public transport and make it free to all users throughout the UK by 2030, with free bus travel by 2025 as a first step.”

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