UK government unveils plan for full decarbonisation of transport sector

The UK government has set out how it will go further and faster to tackle climate change, in response to recommendations from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC). This comes four months after the UK became the first major economy to legislate for net zero emissions by 2050.

The government’s official response to the CCC’s recommendation includes plans to strengthen governance to galvanise the whole of government to do more to tackle climate change and an ambitious plan to accelerate the decarbonisation of transport.

Groundwork for the Transport Decarbonisation Plan will start immediately, with the Department for Transport (DfT) to publish a document setting out the challenge later this year. The plan itself is due to be completed in 2020, and will set out in detail what government, business and society will need to do to deliver the significant emissions reductions needed from all modes of transport. It will consider in particular how UK technology and innovation can be implemented to encourage major changes to the way people and goods move across the UK.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: ‘From driving our cars, to catching a train or taking a flight abroad, it is crucial that we ensure transport is as environmentally friendly as possible. This is why, as well as agreeing to the CCC’s recommendation on net zero by 2050, we have launched this ground-breaking plan to achieve net zero emissions across every single mode of transport.’

Earlier this month, the 
government announced up to £1bn to develop and embed the next generation of cutting-edge automotive technologies. The funding will look to accelerate mass production of key technologies in the UK through major investments in the manufacturing of batteries, including cells, modules and packs as well as electric motors, power electronics and hydrogen fuel cells. The new money will include research and development into new, advanced electric vehicle (EV) technologies, helping to super-charge the uptake of zero emission vehicles in the UK, building on the £1bn R&D commitment to the Advanced Propulsion Centre and £274mn funding for the Faraday Battery Challenge.

The Department for Transport has recently published strategies to reduce carbon emissions across transport, including the £1.5bn 
Road to ZeroMaritime 2050 and the Clean Maritime Plan as well as the Aviation 2050 green paper, and upcoming aviation strategy which will be published early next year. But with the move to net zero, there is a need to go further and faster to reduce emissions, says the Department. The Transport Decarbonisation Plan will take a coordinated, cross-modal approach to deliver the transport sector’s contribution to the UK’s decarbonisation targets.

Further detail on how the UK will make progress towards the 2050 net zero target is expected in the National Infrastructure Strategy this autumn.

The UK government also unveiled a new Environment Bill, which will also be introduced in Parliament. The Bill outlines ambitious proposals to strengthen the UK’s standards of environmental protection post-Brexit with the establishment of a new public body – the Office for Environmental Protection – which will also hold government and other public bodies to account on their environmental obligations, including on climate change.

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