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Northern universities to tackle transport emissions

Exhaust emissions pollution

Scientists from the University of Leeds will lead a new research network of northern universities to find new ways to rapidly decarbonise UK transport.

The DecarboN8 network will focus on tackling surface transport emissions, which form 26% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The network, worth £1.25m and funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), will be comprised of experts from the N8 Research Partnership, a collaboration of the eight most research intensive universities in the North of England; as well as experts from Government and industry.

The North is an ideal area for this research as it has a wide range of locales, socio-economic circumstances and travel patterns.

The project will look specifically at how different places could be rapidly switched to electromobility for personal travel, and how different decarbonisation strategies needed for cars and heavy vehicles can interact with each other.

Professor Greg Marsden from the Institute for Transport Studies at Leeds will be leading the project.

He said: “The challenge of reaching zero carbon emissions by 2050 as outlined in the latest report from the Committee on Climate Change represents a huge technological, engineering, policy and societal challenge for the next 30 years.

“A key element of the work of DecarboN8 will be to demonstrate how 'place' is important to researching the decarbonisation challenge.

"This will open up a new branch of decarbonisation science across the transport and energy sector that will be of real significance to other regions in the UK and globally.

“A focus on place is also essential to consider the connection to local energy resources that may play a part in emission reduction, for example the availability of clean hydrogen which could power trains or ambulances.”

Transport for the North’s senior evidence and analysis officer Lucy Humphreys said: “Transport for the North is delighted to be involved in the Decarbon8 network.

"We believe the network could offer a step-change in how we approach the decarbonisation challenge across the North, the UK and beyond. 

“Working across the North to understand the role of scale, collaborative potential and the need for diversity in the transition is particularly importantly for TfN.

"We are keen to identify the carbon implications of TfN’s policies and be forward thinking in our approach to mitigate increasing transport demand against the environmental and health benefits rapid decarbonisation would mean for residents across the North.”

N8 Research Partnership’s research partnership manager Dr Nick Goldspink said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to bring the critical mass of research excellence that exists in the N8 universities together with a developing devolved policy landscape to deliver real benefits for the region and more widely.”

The project will also include research into societal acceptance and societal readiness, ensuring that is considered from the start of the research.

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