The publication last week of annual UK greenhouse gas emissions data is a stark reminder that unless there is a radical rethink of UK transport strategy, the carbon reduction targets in the Climate Change Act will be missed, let alone the stricter reductions that are needed to comply with the Paris Agreement and reach a net zero emissions goal.

Friends of the Earth has teamed up with Transport for Quality of Life to map out through a series of briefings what a new transport strategy needs to include. The first three briefings were published last week. Their  proposal for free bus travel for the under 30s hit the headlines, but this was just one of the recommendations in the papers.

The first briefing ‘More than electric cars: Why we need to reduce traffic to reach carbon targets’shows that, even if there is a much more rapid transition to electric vehicles than currently planned, we still need to reduce car mileage by at least 20% by 2030. The briefing recommends the following actions to get transport on track to meet climate goals:

  • Regulate the number of new fossil fuel cars and vans that can be sold, so that by 2030 all new car and van sales will be ULEVs, and nearly all will be zero-emission battery electric vehicles.
  • Reform the grant scheme for electric cars to a trade-in rebate system, with grants only for trading in or scrapping an existing vehicle.
  • Develop policy scenarios to reduce car mileage by 20-60% between now and 2030.
  • Cancel all new road schemes and use the funding for public transport, walking and cycling.

The second briefing ‘Transforming public transport: Regulation, spending and free buses for the under 30’ looks at how public transport will need to change in order to achieve the necessary reduction in car use. It argues that:

  • Cities and towns should take up the new powers offered by the Bus Services Act to re-regulate bus services. By comparison with European towns and cities with regulated buses, this could reduce car mileage by about 9%.
  • A new body, ‘Local Public Transport for England’, should be set up to help local authorities to re-regulate their buses, with equivalent bodies also established by devolved governments.
  • The law should be changed so that local authorities can set up a municipal public transport operator (as in Europe) if they believe this will enable them to provide better local public transport.
  • Local authorities should be given wider powers to raise funding for local public transport, for example from a local public transport payroll levy. This should be in addition to increased national funding for local public transport.
  • Once bus services are regulated, free bus travel should be offered to the under-30s in order to achieve a radical shift in people’s travel behaviour.

Our third briefing on land-use planning is now available too, examining how lax planning rules are leading to car-dependent housing and drawing on experience overseas to show how better land-use planning and capture of uplift in land value would reduce carbon emissions as well as benefitting communities, public health and local economies.

Further briefings in the series will cover changes needed in the areas of active travel, governance, road pricing and funding for the UK’s transport emissions to be cut in line with the Paris Agreement.  Further briefings  will be published as they emerge. They  also plan to hold a policy roundtable later in the year when this work is complete. Please contact Laura or Lynn if you would like to be included on the invite list.

Laura MacKenzie
Infrastructure campaigner | Friends of the Earth

07909 071 454 |

Lynn Sloman

Director | Transport for Quality of Life

01654 781358 |




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