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Drastic cut in car miles needed to hit net zero, says report

Rush hour traffic

A reduction in car travel by a quarter is needed by 2030 if the UK is to stay on track to achieve net zero emissions, a new report suggests.

Transport is the fastest growing source of global greenhouse gas emissions and biggest polluting sector of the UK economy, says Greener Transport Solutions.

It is calling for an urgent re-think on the UK’s transport decarbonisation strategy as it publishes a new report: Pathways to Net Zero - Building a framework for systemic change

The report concludes that technological solutions will be insufficient to hit net zero in the UK. Urgent focus must now be given to traffic reduction, it says.

Transport emissions in the UK are only 3% lower than they were in 1990. People have driven more and in larger vehicles as engines have become more efficient.

The Major of London has pledged 27% reduction in car miles by 2030. The Scottish Government has pledged a 20% reduction. 

Research for the Green Alliance shows that a reduction in car kms of 20-27% by 2030 will be needed.

Global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions must halve by 2030 to stay within 1.5C. However, after a reduction caused by lockdowns GHG emissions have bounced back and are set to rise strongly this year. 

Latest figures from the International Energy Agency show that carbon emissions rose to their highest levels in history in 2021 after the world rebounded from the Covid pandemic with heavy reliance on fossil fuels. 

CO2 emissions linked to energy climbed 6% last year. Transport has the highest reliance on fossil fuels of any sector and accounts for 37% of CO2 emissions from end‐use sectors.

Claire Haigh, founder and CEO of Greener Transport Solutions, said: “At a time of rising geopolitical uncertainty, insecurity of supplies, and escalating fuel and gas prices, it becomes more critical than ever to design policies in a way that avoids unintended consequences and ensures a fair and just transition to net zero.

“We need a massive shift to clean technologies, but we must also reduce energy demand. Energy demand reduction supports the three key goals of energy policy: security, affordability and sustainability. 

“Our climate is heating up at great speed. We have less than a decade to get on track.  We cannot rely on technological solutions alone. Traffic reduction will also play a critical role.”

Greener Transport Solutions is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the decarbonisation of transport. 

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