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Decarbonising transport requires ‘step change in ambition’, says DfT

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The Department for Transport’s transport decarbonisation plan has set out six strategic priorities that the Government will be consulting on over the next five or six months.

A final report detailing its action plan will be published this autumn.

Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Transport, has called for a “step change” in scale and ambition to achieve the challenge of net zero carbon transport by 2050 in the UK.

Shapps made the statement as part of the DfT’s Decarbonising Transport Setting the Challenge report.

The DfT is asking for feedback from individuals, businesses, trade associations, local authorities, scientists, researchers, innovators, interest groups and environmental groups to help develop its action plan for decarbonising transport.

“Transport has a huge role to play in the economy reaching net zero,” said Shapps. “The scale of the challenge demands a step change in both the breadth and scale of ambition, and we have a duty to act quickly and decisively to reduce emissions.

“Through the Transport Decarbonisation Plan, 2020 will be the year we set out the policies and plans needed to tackle transport emissions. This document marks the start of this process. It gives a clear view of where we are today and the size of emissions reduction we need.”

The DfT’s Decarbonising Transport Setting the Challenge has laid out six strategic priorities:

  • Accelerating modal shift to public and active travel. Public transport and active travel will be the natural first choice for daily activities. We will use cars less and be able to rely on a convenient, cost-effective and coherent public transport network, while encouraging cycling and walking for short journey.
  • Decarbonisation of road vehicles. Support the transition to zero emission road vehicles through: regulatory framework, strong consumer base, market conditions, vehicle supply, refuelling and recharging infrastructure, and energy system readiness.
  • Decarbonising how we get our goods. Goods will be delivered through an integrated, efficient and sustainable delivery system, considering future demand and changing consumer behaviour for goods. Also, to transform ‘last-mile’ deliveries, optimise logistics efficiency and explore digitally-enabled solutions, data sharing and collaborative platforms.
  • Place-based solutions. Clean, place-based solutions will meet the needs of local people. Consider where, how and why emissions occur in specific locations and address emissions at a local level through local management of transport solutions with targeted support.
  •  UK as a hub for green transport technology and innovation. The UK will be an internationally recognised leader in environmentally sustainable, low carbon technology and innovation in transport.
  • Reducing carbon in a global economy. Lead the development of sustainable biofuels, hybrid and electric aircraft to lessen and remove the impact of aviation on the environment and by 2050, zero emission ships will be commonplace globally.

DfT intends to host a series of workshops, each focused on a specific strategic priority. These workshops are aimed at engaging the transport sector to collaborate on “bold, ambitious and credible steps”, considering different technology, systems, policies and support mechanisms to achieve zero emissions by 2050.

Stakeholders and representatives of organisations can register their interest for one or more strategic priority workshop by emailing TDP@dft.gov.uk.

The Government is also looking to develop a universally recognised measure so that in future, people can compare how much CO2 different forms of transport emit over a certain distance.

Shapps said: “Success will require the sector, and its users, to embrace new technology and innovation like never before. We believe the transport sector is ready to step up and meet those challenges.”

Sandra Roling, head of EV100 at The Climate Group below, welcomed the publication of the Government’s Transport Decarbonisation Plan.

“This is a comprehensive plan rightly covering all areas of transport and with ambition firmly set on net-zero emissions,” she said.

“Companies in our EV100 initiative, from AstraZeneca to Zenith, are committing to electrify their vehicle fleets by 2030.

“Government must work hand in hand with business to enable a faster roll out of EVs, and coupled with that, an earlier phase out of diesel and petrol vehicles. We will be engaging businesses across the UK to ensure the private sector is able to maximise its role in driving forward the rapid electrification of road transport in the UK.”

Among the planned future work detailed by the report are:

  • Improvements to the consumer offer for charging infrastructure, with all new rapid and higher powered charge points providing debit or credit card payment by Spring 2020, as well as a roaming solution across the charging network, allowing EV drivers to use any public charge point through a single payment method.
  • Making charge point data freely available so that software developers can develop the tools drivers need to easily locate and access available charge points. Government is prepared to intervene to ensure a good deal for consumers if the market is too slow to deliver improvements across the entire network.
  • Adding R&D funding to pilot and demonstrate electric vehicle technologies around batteries, power electronics and drives, on-street and wireless charging and vehicle-to-grid.
  • The Government will publish its response to consultations on charge points in new homes, smart requirements for private charge points and on the introduction of green number plates to raise awareness of cleaner vehicles and increase their uptake. The Government will publish a vision in Spring 2020 for a core network of rapid/high powered charge points along England’s key network of roads.
  • Government is providing £500 million over the next five years to support the rollout of a fast-charging network for electric vehicles, ensuring that drivers will never be further than 30 miles from a rapid charging station.

The full transport decarbonisation plan is expected to be published later this year.

Businesses and individuals can share their views on what actions the Government should take in order to decarbonise transport by emailing TDP@dft.gov.uk or by letter to Transport Decarbonisation Plan, Great Minster House, 33 Horseferry Rd, London, SW1P 4DR.


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  • Dusz - 02/04/2020 19:17

    Having had a PHEV for 4 years, I agree that there needs to be a more easily accessed method of payment. As a business user more hotels also need to provide charging stations. Over my 4-year ownmership I only came across one hotel that had two charging points. Until matters such as this are resolved will business travellers truely take on electrification as breaks for charging could add considerably to the time to reach destinations.

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