4 min read19 July
Decarbonising the transport sector is not just about cutting emissions, but also raising living standards and levelling up.
Last week the government unveiled its long-anticipated Transport Decarbonisation Plan, setting out how we can cut emissions from our methods of everyday travel, and do it in a way that will help deliver clean growth across the country.
From a personal perspective, I am delighted that the government has adopted my 10 Minute Rule Bill which I presented on Tuesday to the Chamber and mandates that all new build homes and offices should have electric vehicle charging.
The government has already shown its commitment to cutting transport emissions with the world-leading 2030 phase out date for new sales of petrol and diesel vehicles alongside initiatives to expand the charging network. However, we need a strategy providing certainty for industry and the public as to how we get to 2030 – a trajectory towards our targets rather than a cliff edge.
We must make decarbonisation an accessible option for lower income families
I was extremely pleased to see a commitment to a consultation on a California-style Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate in the plan, which would require manufacturers to sell an increasing proportion of Electric Vehicles (EVs) over the next few years.
A trading scheme would allow those companies who do not meet their quotas to buy credits from those that exceed them. This is a policy for which I have been campaigning alongside colleagues in the Conservative Environment Network. It would not only give consumers more choice across make, model and cost, but would stimulate a second-hand market for EVs, opening up the benefits of electric motoring to lower-income families.
Decarbonising the transport sector is not just about cutting emissions, but also raising living standards and levelling up. Air quality is a significant issue for my central London constituency. Last year’s Gear Change strategy saw a £2 billion investment (a six-fold increase) in active travel like cycling and walking routes. The strategy not only emphasised the positive impact that active travel options can have on carbon emissions, but on air quality for our children, as well as physical and mental health.
Going forward, we need to see councils better supported as to strategic approaches to this infrastructure, to ensure there are no unintended impacts on local communities such as traffic and air pollution increasing, and challenges to accessibility for disabled residents.
There is also a fantastic opportunity for innovation and job creation, which is already yielding returns. Nissan is investing £420 million in an electric car factory in Sunderland that will bring over 6,000 jobs to the area and related supply chains. Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port plant has been saved by a new electric van deal, which could be particularly important given the government’s proposed ban on all diesel trucks by 2040 in this week’s strategy.
However, our levelling-up agenda must not stop here. We must also see significant improvements to the transport networks in central London, which have some of the most deprived areas in the UK. We must make decarbonisation an accessible option for lower income families, which involves investment in the public transport network, including step free access for stations such as Ladbroke Grove in my constituency.
Consumers are also showing a clear appetite for zero carbon transport solutions. Last month there was a record uptake of battery-powered electric cars and demand for charging points is rapidly increasing. This enthusiasm is being matched by businesses like Vauxhall, who have announced that by 2024 all their car models will have an electric version available, with the sale of all vehicles with an internal combustion engine ending by 2028. We are expecting to see price parity between EVs and ICEs by 2023, and consumer choice and market solutions will be the means by which we can bring this date forward.
There is a lot more to come from the government on the journey toward achieving net zero by 2050, but with this bold plan we are making tremendous progress in transport, one of the hardest sectors to decarbonise. We are also determined to seize the opportunities to create jobs along the way.
We’ve got to keep the country moving even as how we get from A to B transforms dramatically. The journey starts here.
Felicity Buchan is the Conservative MP for Kensington.
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