A Manifesto for Decarbonising Transport

Transport Knowledge Hub logo Published on: 30th September 2021 by Claire Haigh.

We are a group of leading professionals in the transport and planning sectors who together support the UK Government’s commitment to decarbonising our economy while sharing a deep concern that much greater urgency and action is needed to address the challenge society faces. Our focus is upon what we believe the Government must do if we are to decarbonise transport at the rate necessary.

We start by acknowledging the scale of the challenge.  Climate scientists are shocked by the accelerating rate of changes.  The August 2021 IPCC report has been described as a ‘code red for humanity’.  We are seeing severe weather impacts in areas not previously thought of as high risk.

Special responsibility rests on UK shoulders.  As hosts of the COP26 UN Climate Summit we are well positioned to demonstrate strong policies and to show leadership. Transport is the biggest emitting sector of the UK economy and the fastest growing source of global greenhouse gas emissions.  We must have a credible delivery plan for decarbonising our transport system.

The July 2021 Transport Decarbonisation Plan is a welcome first step.  We support the target of phasing out sales of all new polluting road vehicles by 2040 and the Plan’s vision for a cleaner, greener Britain.  However, urgent attention must now be given to reducing the volume of traffic on our roads.

We were invited to advise Greener Transport Solutions (GTS) in the development of A Manifesto for Decarbonising Transport.  GTS has conducted extensive research which concludes that achieving our carbon reduction targets will require:

  1. Traffic reduction in addition to the roll out of zero emissions vehicles;
  2. A complete reform of motoring taxation as we transition from petrol and diesel vehicles; and
  3. A credible national programme for delivering behaviour change.

This cannot afford to wait. 60% of the decarbonisation task for transport needs to be done in the next decade if we are to be on track for the net zero target.

The actions we take in this decade are arguably the most important in human history.  We must act quickly and decisively.  We urge the Government to complement the roll out of clean vehicle technologies with a national focus on behaviour change.

  • Claire Haigh (Chair), Founder & CEO of Greener Transport Solutions
  • Professor Jillian Anable, Chair in Transport and Energy, Institute for Transport Studies, University of Leeds
  • Stephen Glaister CBE, Emeritus Professor of Transport and Infrastructure at Imperial College London, Associate of the London School of Economics
  • Professor Peter Jones OBE, Professor of Transport and Sustainable Development in the UCL Centre for Transport Studies
  • Professor Glenn Lyons, Mott MacDonald Professor of Future Mobility, University of the West of England
  • Professor Greg Marsden, Professor of Transport Governance, Institute for Transport Studies, University of Leeds
  • Paul Campion, CEO of TRL
  • Hilary Chipping, CEO South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership
  • Leon Daniels OBE, Chair Highways Sector Council
  • Andy Eastlake, CEO, Zemo Partnership (formerly Low CVP)
  • Victoria Hills, CEO Royal Town Planning Institute
  • Paul Hirst, Head of the Transport Sector Group at Addleshaw Goddard
  • Stephen Joseph OBE, Trustee of the Foundation for Integrated Transport & Visiting Professor at University of Hertfordshire and
  • Maria Machancoses, Chief Executive of Midlands Connect
  • Kamal Panchal, Senior Adviser on Transport and Local Growth Policy, Local Government Association (Observer)
  • Anna Rothnie, Principal Transport Planner
  • Anthony Smith, CEO of Transport Focus

Greener Transport Solutions (GTS) is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the decarbonisation of transport. It received funding from the Foundation for Integrated Transport to produce ‘A Manifesto for Decarbonising Transport’.  GTS has consulted widely, including a Transport Knowledge Hub workshop, and then a series of webinars sponsored by the law firm Addleshaw Goddard. GTS has published various articles and reports on Decarbonising Transport.  In partnership with Transport Times, it has published blogs by more than 100 leading academics, politicians, businesses, environmental groups and think tanks.  GTS recently conducted a quantitative survey of Transport Times readers.

A survey of 260 Transport Times readers was conducted between 17th August and 15th September 2021 on what it would take to decarbonise transport.

  • 92% agreed that the need for travel should be reduced by investing in digital connectivity, alongside sustainable transport, with 64% strongly agreeing.
  • 89% agreed that the UK Government should commit and put in place policies to ensure a reduction in car kilometres travelled of 20% by 2030, with 71% strongly agreeing.
  • 85% identified that the £40bn blackhole from the demise of Fuel Duty and Vehicle Excise Duty revenues made alternative funding through road pricing ‘inevitable’. 59% strongly agree with this and only 3% strongly disagree.
  • 89% believe it would not be possible for local authorities to achieve their climate goals without clarity on how car users will pay for transport as we shift away from petrol and diesel cars, with 63% strongly agreeing.
  • 81% believe that a national road charging scheme is the only way to manage road mileage demand with over half (53%) strongly agreeing.

 Download Manifesto


About the Author

This post was written by Claire Haigh. Founder & CEO of Greener Vision & Executive Director of the Transport Knowledge Hub. Claire was previously CEO of Greener Transport Solutions (2021-2022) and CEO of Greener Journeys (2009-2020).