Oral statement to Parliament Transport decarbonisation plan: tackling climate change

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From:Department for Transport and The Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP

A comprehensive strategy to end transport’s contribution to climate change within 3 decades.

Transport decarbonisation is a dull way of describing something much more exciting and far-reaching.

Because transport is not just how you get around.

It is something that fundamentally shapes our towns, our cities and our countryside.

Today we have published our transport decarbonisation plan the first in the world.

A comprehensive - yet urgent - strategy to end transport’s contribution to climate change within 3 decades and show global leadership as we prepare to host COP26 in November (2021).

It is 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 on improved roads, but increasingly in zero emission cars. We will still have new development, but it won’t force us into high-carbon lifestyles.

Mr Speaker, we know that the world is running out of time to tackle climate change.

Unless we take decisive and radical actions now, it will soon be too late to prevent catastrophic damage to our planet, that will also threaten our security and prosperity.

But at the same time, terms such as decarbonisation and net zero seem abstract to many people.

This plan argues that transport is not just how you get around.

It influences our living standards, in fact our whole quality of life.

It can shape all these things for good, or for bad.

Bad is traffic congestion and pollution - which also contributes to climate change.

Indeed, transport is now the single biggest contributor to UK greenhouse gas emissions.

And decarbonisation is not just some technocratic process. It is how we fix some of that harm. It is how we make sure that transport shapes the country and the economy in ways that are good.

It’s about taking filth out of the air and creating better places. It’s about a second industrial revolution, creating hundreds of thousands of green jobs in places that were the cradle of the first one.

And driving all this will be the consumer, making greener travel choices informed by better data.

And government working with industry, to meet our carbon budgets, and keep this green transport revolution on track.

What’s exciting about this plan is that for the first time, we have the opportunity to decarbonise transport without curtailing our freedoms.

It won’t stop us driving.

Commuting to work.

Or going on holiday.

But we’ll be using zero-emission cars, motorcycles and trucks.

We’ll be travelling in zero emission trains, ferries, buses and coaches.

We’ll be cycling and walking much more.

We’ll be flying in more efficient aircraft, using sustainable fuels.

Now - I accept, that even a few years ago, the vision we are setting out today might have seemed over-ambitious.

But such is the progress we’re making in this country, in technology and engineering, in building momentum for the net zero challenge ahead.

And in showing real political leadership for the biggest challenge in our lifetimes.

That we can now commit to a bold strategy to help wean transport off fossil fuels and reach net zero in under 30 years.

We’ve already announced that the sale of new cars and vans powered solely by petrol and diesel engines will cease in 2030, and for all cars and vans to be fully zero emission at the tailpipe by 2035, a commitment which would not have been deliverable while we were members of the EU because our own type approval framework would have breached the single market.

To underpin these phase out dates, we have today published our 2035 delivery plan, which sets out the investment and measures from government to deliver mass ownership of zero emission cars and vans.

And we have published a green paper on our new road vehicle CO2 emissions regulatory framework, which will be ambitious in decarbonising road transport and tailored to the UK’s needs. This could include a zero-emission mandate for manufacturers, so they sell an ever-increasing proportion of zero-emission vehicles.

But the decarbonisation plan goes further.

With a commitment to consult on a world-leading pledge to phase out sales of all new non-zero emission road vehicles – from motorcycles to HGVs.

We believe this should be from 2040 at the latest, a massive step towards cleaning up road transport altogether.

By doing so, we’ll remove the source of over 90% of our total domestic transport emissions.

But we’ll go further.

Creating a net zero rail network by 2050.

Replacing all our diesel-only trains by 2040 with super-clean technologies like hydrogen.

Hundreds of electric buses are already operating in many UK cities but soon that will be thousands.

This will not just befit urban areas, but the whole country.

Remote and rural areas – that have not always been best served by such changes in the past – will also see the benefits.

Completely clean buses will form the backbone of our local public transport system.

And we’ll continue to work with industry to roll out a national electric vehicle charging network, on top of the nearly 25,000 public charging devices already installed, including more fast chargers for every 100 miles of key strategic road than any country in Europe.

That will include smart vehicle charging to reduce energy bills and demand on the electricity system.

Something that will also benefit the government’s fleet of 40,000 vehicles which we aim to be fully electric by 2027.

We’ll consult on phasing out sales of new, non-zero-emission capable domestic ships too.

And of course we’ll be a hub for green air travel, today we have launched a consultation which sets out how we will deliver net zero aviation by 2050 working with the Jet Zero Council with a target to achieve zero-emission transatlantic flight within this generation.

If that seems more like science fiction than science fact, then consider that the world’s first zero-carbon flight has already been successfully completed.

Last year, a hydrogen fuel-cell-powered 6-seater aircraft, based at Cranfield Airport in Bedfordshire, took a 20 minute flight, another world first for Britain.

We’ll support and incentivise green development by aligning billions of pounds of infrastructure investment with our net zero programme.

Like the billions we’re investing to build a thriving electric vehicle supply chain, to secure gigafactories here in the UK, to create more efficient aviation engines, lighter planes and sustainable fuels, and develop clean freight transport.

So, just as green transport won’t stop us travelling, it certainly won’t hold back industry either.

In fact, it will open up unparalleled opportunities for new jobs and enterprise.

In recent weeks alone, both Nissan and Vauxhall have confirmed massive investments in electric vehicle and battery production in Sunderland and Ellesmere Port.

These are the modern day equivalent of early investments in our railway 200 years ago.

Or indeed in our fledgling motor industry a century later.

What we’re seeing here is the start of a second, greener, industrial revolution, which just like the first, will be driven by transport.

But this time, delivering triple benefits – for our economy, for jobs and for the future health of our planet.

But we cannot, of course, simply rely on technology, nor can we believe that zero-emission vehicles will solve all our problems.

They won’t, especially in meeting our medium-term targets for the 2030s.

The pandemic has provided a chance to rethink how we plan travel.

How we do public transport.

In fact, we’ve already seen a 46% increase in the number of road miles being cycled last year, the biggest increase since the Second World War.

Cycling rose by more in that single year than across the whole of the previous 20 years put together.

With £2 billion of new funding, more than 300 cycling and walking schemes are being delivered, and many more are on the way.

We’ve pledged another £3 billion to revolutionise local buses in England outside London, with London-style cheap flat fares and integrated ticketing.

And we’re creating Great British Railways - to bring the rail network back together and make it easier for people to travel by train.

We want to make public transport, cycling and walking the natural first choice for all who can take it.

Mr Speaker, 2050 may seem like a long way into the future.

But it’s just 29 years.

That’s why the pace of change will be unparalleled.

And why this new decarbonisation plan is a landmark in the evolution of transport in this country.

We are the first country in the world to do this, taking a firm leadership position as we host COP26 later this year.

From being part of the climate change problem, to a major part of the solution.

That’s the transformation we must deliver by 2050.

And that’s the transformation we’ll achieve.

I am placing a copy of the plan in the library of the house and I commend this statement to the house.

This press release was sourced from UK's Government on 14-Jul-2021.