Government publishes ‘world’s first greenprint’ to decarbonise all modes of domestic transport by 2050

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The UK’s Transport decarbonisation plan has been announced by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

The plan is set to provide a world-leading ‘greenprint’ to cut emissions from our seas and skies, roads and railways, setting out a credible pathway for the whole transport sector to reach net zero by 2050.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps commented on the announcement: “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.”

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.

Combined with the 2035 phase out date for polluting cars and vans, this is set to represent a pledge to phase out all polluting road vehicles within the next two decades.

The consultation proposes a 2035 phase out date for vehicles weighing from 3.5 to 26 tonnes and 2040 for vehicles weighing more than 26 tonnes – or earlier if a faster transition seems feasible.

The Transport decarbonisation plan also sets out how the government is set to improve public transport and increase support for active travel to make them the natural first choice for all who can take them – creating a net zero rail network by 2050, ensuring net zero domestic aviation emissions by 2040 and leading the transition to green shipping.

The commitment comes as the government publishes a green paper setting out the regulatory framework requiring vehicle manufacturers to improve the fuel efficiency of new cars, vans and HGVs, enabling the country to meet the phase out dates while creating new jobs for the automotive sector and delivering certainty for drivers.

This includes consulting on the possible introduction of a new phased industry mandate for zero emission vehicles.

The government is also publishing a 2035 delivery plan, which brings together all of the measures for decarbonising cars and vans, from across government, into a single document. It outlines the key timelines, milestones and how progress towards the commitment to deliver mass ownership of zero emission cars and vans will be monitored

The government is also launching the Jet zero consultation, which commits the sector to a net zero emissions target by 2050 and sets out an action plan for how it can be achieved – ensuring everyone can continue to fly for holidays, visits to family and business without contributing to climate change.

The UK aviation industry is already leading the way in seeking to reduce emissions from flights.

The consultation proposes an earlier target for UK domestic aviation to reach net zero by 2040, as well as for all airport operations in England to be zero emission by 2040.

The government has also:

  • announced that it has brought forward the target date for the whole central government fleet of 40,000 cars and vans to be fully zero emission by 2027, three years earlier than previously planned
  • published the government’s response to the electric vehicle smart charging consultation, committing to laying legislation later this year to ensure that all new private electric vehicle chargepoints meet smart charging standards, which can save consumers money on their energy bills
  • published its rail environment policy statement, which will set the direction for the rail industry on environment issues such as traction decarbonisation, air quality, decarbonising the rail estate, biodiversity and waste

Mike Thompson, the Chief Economist for Climate Change Committee, commented on the announcement: “We’re pleased to see another step forward in the Government’s commitment to deliver a Net Zero UK.

“The Transport Decarbonisation Plan and aviation consultation are two of seven key strategies that we highlighted in our recent progress report as overdue.

“The overall ambition, including phasing out the sale of diesel trucks by 2040 and Net Zero aviation by 2050, looks in line with our recommendations.

“We are particularly pleased to see proposals for a Zero Emission Vehicle mandate, which we’ve recommended as key to reducing emissions from UK transport since the Net Zero target was set. Meeting Net Zero will require action on demand for transport as well as its supply.

“As ever, the devil will be in the detail and we look forward to scrutinising the Government’s proposals fully and carefully while we await delivery of other key roadmaps on heating, hydrogen, food, biomass, the Treasury’s Net Zero Review, and the Government’s overall Net Zero Strategy.”

More information about the plan is available on the Government website.