We need a transport revolution, as UK passes net zero emissions law

27th June 2019
news
release

Friends of the Earth has released a new study showing that for the UK to deliver on its new net zero greenhouse gas target, a 20% reduction in car travel needs to be a reality in the next 11 years. Further, 100% of new cars need to be electric, and flights will have to be reduced by around 18%

The scale of the challenge has increased because the Department for Transport (DfT) has side-lined climate change and presided over a 10% increase in greenhouse gases from the sector since 1990. The research, produced by Transport for Quality of Life, accuses the DfT of going rogue on climate change.

The research:

  • Brings together emissions data from multiple sources to show that when emissions from surface transport and international aviation and shipping emissions are combined, levels have increased by more than 10% since 1990;
  • Identifies a possible 2030 target for total transport emissions of 75 MtCO2 by 2030 and the implications for meeting it. This is less than the current indicative 2030 allowance for total transport set by the Committee of Climate Change (CCC) of 109 MtCO2 which was consistent with the previous 80% reduction goal by 2050, but higher than academic work that suggests a target of 40 MtCO2 by 2030. The CCC will make formal recommendations in 2020 for a new carbon reduction target for 2030, and it is expected to be between these two extremes; and
  • Makes policy recommendations including halting all airport expansion, developing a transport strategy that reduces the use of aviation and car transport, including through fiscal measures such as a Frequent Flier Levy, along with expanding and promoting public transport and cycling.

Mike Childs, head of research at Friends of the Earth said:

“Net zero greenhouse gas targets need to be a front-and-centre policy for all arms of government. But we have to move right now, and a brilliant example of where government can show that they’re serious is transport because the sector is now the biggest source of greenhouse gases.

“The Department for Transport has gone rogue on climate change and presided over increasing emissions, decimated bus services, and failed to invest properly in cycling and walking. Its fixation with aviation expansion and road building needs to end. The next Secretary of State for Transport under the new PM needs to rapidly lead a low-carbon revolution in transport because it’s the obvious starting point.”

Lisa Hopkinson, of Transport for Better Quality of Life, said:

“While all other sectors have reduced emissions since 1990 transport is the only sector to have increased, while aviation emissions have more than doubled. Transport is not on track to a net zero target and we need to urgently include aviation in revised carbon budgets and constrain demand for flying and driving. As well as helping meet carbon targets this would have enormous benefits for UK local tourism, air quality and public health.”

-ends-

Notes to editors:

[1] The research, A net Zero Carbon Budget for the Whole Transport Sector, is available

[2] The new net zero greenhouse gas target became law on 27th June 2019