The UK government has launched its ‘greenprint’ transport decarbonisation plan. The idea is to create cleaner, quieter cities and communities for a better quality of life and to improve the way people and goods move around.
With just months to go until major climate summit COP26, the plan outlines how to cut emissions from our seas and skies, roads and railways. It sets out a pathway for the whole transport sector to reach net-zero by 2050.
In the process, the plan will also help to create and support highly skilled jobs, with the production of zero-emission road vehicles. Plus, it has the potential to support tens of thousands of jobs worth up to £9.7 billion gross value added (GVA) in 2050. This will ensure the air we breathe is cleaner and reduce time spent in traffic.
As part of this vision, the government is today announcing its intention to phase out the sale of new diesel and petrol heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) by 2040. This is subject to consultation and is combined with the 2035 phase-out date for polluting cars and vans.
The consultation proposes a 2035 phase-out date for vehicles weighing from 3.5 to 26 tonnes and 2040 for vehicles weighing more than 26 tonnes. The plan says this could be earlier if a faster transition seems feasible.
This new decarbonisation plan also sets out how the government will improve public transport. It will increase support for active travel to make walking, cycling and public transport the natural first choice. It’s also looking at creating a net zero rail network by 2050, ensuring net-zero domestic aviation emissions by 2040 and leading the transition to green shipping.
Grant Shapps, Transport Secretary, said: “Decarbonisation is not just some technocratic process. It’s about how we make sure that transport shapes quality of life and the economy in ways that are good.
“It’s not about stopping people doing things, it’s about doing the same things differently. We will still fly on holiday but in more efficient aircraft, using sustainable fuel. We will still drive but increasingly in zero-emission cars.
“The Transport decarbonisation plan is just the start. We will need continued efforts and collaboration to deliver its ambitious commitments, which will ultimately create sustainable economic growth through healthier communities as we build back greener.”
The government is publishing a green paper setting out the regulatory framework requiring vehicle manufacturers to improve the fuel efficiency of new cars, vans and HGVs. This will enable the country to meet the ambitious phase-out dates while creating new jobs for the automotive sector and delivering certainty for drivers. This includes consulting on the possible introduction of a new phased industry mandate for zero-emission vehicles.
It’s publishing a 2035 delivery plan, which brings together all of the measures for decarbonising cars and vans, from across government, into a single document. It outlines the key timelines, milestones and how progress towards the commitment to deliver mass ownership of zero-emission cars and vans will be monitored.
This follows recent investments from car manufacturer Nissan to produce its new-generation electric vehicles in Sunderland, along with Envision’s new Gigafactory. Plus, there has been Stellantis’ investment in Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port manufacturing plant to transform the site for electric vehicle manufacturing.
Aviation has a vital role to play in tackling climate change and the government is today also launching the Jet zero consultation. This commits the sector to a net zero emissions target by 2050 and sets out an action plan for how it can be achieved. It will ensure everyone can continue to fly for holidays, visits to family and business without contributing to climate change.
Reflecting the fact the UK aviation industry is already leading the way in seeking to reduce emissions from flights, the consultation proposes an earlier target for UK domestic aviation to reach net zero by 2040. As part of this all airport operations in England to be zero emissions by 2040.
The government also announced it has brought forward the target date for the whole central government fleet of 40,000 cars and vans to be fully zero emission by 2027. This is three years earlier than previously planned and a positive step.
When it comes to charging electric vehicles the government has committed to laying legislation later this year to ensure that all new private EV chargepoints meet smart charging standards. This will help consumers save money on their energy bills.