The country’s first transport minister to be given a portfolio that includes alternatives to transport has said his department will work with fleets to help them reduce the need for travel, as well as reduce carbon emissions where business travel is essential.
Norman Baker, the secretary of state for transport, told delegates at the Fleet News Green Summit, which was held in conjunction with the Energy Saving Trust, that their buying power was such that their acquisition of low-carbon vehicles will be crucial to the successful transition over to a low-carbon road transport network.
However, he also pointed out that companies must focus on ensuring their employees only travel when there is truly a need.
“I want to work with fleets to reduce travel,” he said. “That might be looking at home working, at higher speed broadband and video conferencing. We must reduce unnecessary travel.”
But the reality is companies will always have a need for their employees to travel. And the minister recognises this.
However, while he says it is not the car that is the enemy but carbon and that cars are here to stay, he remains focussed on promoting alternatives to car use where possible.
“You need to make choices about when, where and how you travel,” he said. “I want companies to offer their employees bikes for short journeys.”
And where car travel is essential then fleets need to train their drivers in eco-driving techniques.
He also wants them to continue to adopt low-carbon vehicles. “Our future goal is for green vehicles that make economic sense, so the cars we drive are as clean and as economic as possible.”
As such, he says the government remains committed to providing an infrastructure for electric cars so fleets can be assured the market for these new technology vehicles will be sustained.