Have your say on transport for our future
The Department for Transport is asking the public what we should do to reduce transport's climate impact and make it work better for all of us. Let them know what you think. You can respond as an individual or an organisation.
The transport sector accounts for around a third of emissions in the UK. Surface transport alone represents around a quarter of our total emissions (113Mt CO2 equivalent in 2019). This level of emissions has stayed constant for decades, demonstrating a lack of real political will to decarbonise transport or challenge car dependency.
Meanwhile UK emissions from domestic and international aviation are officially calculated as 39 MtCO₂e in 2018. However we can assume that this figure would at least double if non-CO2 effects are taken into account.
During the coronavirus pandemic in the UK, reduced car use in our cities led to clean air and space opened up for pedestrians and cycling - an opportunity to rethink how we use public space. Skies were clear from planes and meetings and conferences shifted online. But as lockdown ends, lower use of public transport and shift to cars as a 'safer' commute risks setting back progress and locking us back into car dependency and pollution.
This is an opportunity to tell the government to act now - for the climate crisis and for more liveable communities for us all. For once, this government consultation is pretty user-friendly! It asks for ideas on reducing emissions from different modes of transport (cars, buses and coaches, vans and lorries, passenger rail, aviation, freight, maritime, other transport) for thoughts on local transport / longer journeys and delivery of goods.
Respond here by Monday 31 August
Only got a few minutes? Submit a quick response calling on the government to 1. scrap the £27 billion roads plan and use the money to get people out of cars, through investment in public transport and active travel and 2. halt airport expansion.
Time to write something longer? That's great. If you're looking for ideas, here are a few to get you started No expert knowledge is needed, and you don't need to answer all the questions. You could comment on the big changes needed. Or keep it personal, talking about how reliable bus services, safe cycle lanes, car free areas, affordable rail travel would make a difference to you and your local community.
The best way to reduce emissions from cars is to get people out of them via a comprehensive plan to reduce car dependence and invest heavily in public transport and active travel. This is more urgent than ever because of the risk of a Covid rebound: higher car use as people avoid public transport over infection concerns.
How to fund this? Cancel the £27 billion budget for road building, investing instead in infrastructure that will be beneficial for the climate, communities and will support local economies.
Speed up the transition from petrol and diesel car sales to electric, supporting UK jobs in manufacturing and focusing on sustainability, e.g. recycling valuable battery components.
Emissions can't shrink while our cars are getting larger. SUVs make up more than 40% of new cars sold in the UK. The government could ban their advertising, and introduce higher taxes to reverse this trend (which is cancelling out the benefits from increased sales of electric cars).
What would help you (or your neighbours) leave the car at home?
Buses and coaches
Reverse the cuts of austerity (3000 routes axed!) - and go further to expand the bus network.
Accelerate the switch to electric buses, where the UK is lagging behind, and support jobs in manufacturing.
Support councils to improve bus services by regulating and taking public ownership of bus networks, integrating them with other modes of transport.
Serious government investment in expansion and electrification of the UK's railways, particularly in regions beyond the South East, including reopening old rail lines
Post-Covid, making fares affordable will be more important than ever. Make sure that they reflect the way people use trains and new working patterns, e.g. part time commuter season tickets.
Recognise that the strategic importance of rail infrastructure may require renationalisation.
Include international aviation emissions in UK carbon budgets to ensure the UK has an accurate picture of its total emissions. Develop a plan to account for and reduce the non-CO2 climate impacts of aviation.
Focus government policy on real emissions cuts and managing demand for aviation, not relying on offsets, unproven technical fixes or unsustainable biofuels. None of these can make planned aviation growth compatible with the Paris climate agreement.
Halt all airport expansion, and introduce fairer tax for aviation (currently benefiting from tax-free fuel), ideally with progressive taxation targeting frequent flyers.
Invest in infrastructure to help shift freight to rail.
Include international shipping emissions in UK carbon budgets to ensure the UK has an accurate picture of its total emissions.
Lockdown demonstrated that safer streets can open up cycling for leisure and travel to many more people of all ages.
There is nothing to prevent UK towns and cities doing what many other European cities have done: using traffic management and cycle infrastructure to make cycling the default choice for commuting and neighbourhood travel.
Integrated transport systems should be key: making it easy for people to cycle and take the bus to link up with regular train services. Reversing the fragmentation that service privatisation has left us with.
Sometimes we need to think differently... Cargo pedal bike delivery services in city centres? E-bikes for a hilly commute - perhaps dropping the children off at pre-school first? Don't be limited by the way we do things now in thinking of ways we could do things better.
What needs to change in your area? Are there any good examples to share?
Transport emissions are hugely significant for the UK's climate commitments. Reducing them needs to be a priority for other government departments, not just DfT:
New housing should be planned to reduce car dependency, planning our towns and cities to rethink assumptions about what is normal for housing, commuting, leisure travel. For example, the '20 minute neighbourhood' where people's everyday needs are met within a 20 minute walk
Investment in sustainable transport infrastructure can be part of the UK's manufacturing and industrial strategy, creating climate jobs as part of a green recovery.
Sustainable transport returns significant health benefits - lower air pollution; the physical and mental health benefits of cycling and walking and a reduction in social isolation.
One more thing
Campaign for Better Transport are collecting evidence of how people are responding to the consultation. If you'd like to help them, click here