4. Road transport

Download a pdf version of the full report on how the government should address the Climate Emergency here.

Deliver zero carbon emissions from road transport

Transport is now the sector with the greatest carbon emissions. These emissions have remained stubborn in recent years, so there needs to be strong political action now to address the issue. Overall there needs to be a major shift to lower carbon modes of transport – public transport, walking and cycling – which need significant support, plus decarbonisation of all vehicles that remain. Underpinning this should be a recognition that ‘transport’ is not a good in itself. Communications and connectivity are required for a thriving and healthy 21st century economy; moving people around is only one way to deliver that.

In terms of road transport, technology for decarbonisation is at different stages for different vehicle classes. The challenge for cars and vans is cost of electric vehicles and availability of charging infrastructure. Consequently there is a need to move costs progressively onto fossil fuel emissions, whilst providing reassurance about the availability of charging. Fully zero emission heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) are not available yet, so there is a need for legislation that bears down on emissions whilst providing support for manufacturers to innovate and develop the technology.

Phase out carbon intensive road transport

• Ban the sale of new cars and vans with petrol and diesel engines by 2030, with an intermediate target of 35% of car sales by 2025 being zero emission

• Ban all sales of new petrol and diesel HGVs before 2040, with compulsory interim CO2 cuts for new HGVs of at least 15% by 2025, and 40% by 2030

• Require compulsory CO2 cuts for new off-road machinery and construction equipment that are diesel powered – of at least 40% by 2030

• End the sale of HGVs requiring on-board diesel-powered cooling by 2025

• Stop any biofuels coming into vehicle fuels that are not derived from genuine waste material

• Unfreeze and gradually increase fuel tax over the next decade – the freezing of this tax has cost the Treasury £46bn since 2011

• Increase Vehicle Excise Duty (tax on the cost of new cars and vans) by £300 per year, every year, for high emitting vehicles, with a sliding scale for lower-emitting vehicles

• Develop and move to a new model for paying for road use, which is not dependent on fuel duty, as revenues progressively fall – e.g. road pricing, with lowered rates for rural car drivers 

• Introduce a targeted scrappage scheme for households on lower incomes and small businesses in the most polluted urban areas, to support them to switch from their polluting vehicles to cleaner alternatives – potentially a ‘mobility allowance’ that incentivises active travel and public transport above private vehicle use

Speed up the transition to electric vehicles

• Set a purchasing guideline target for local authority cars to be 90% electric by 2025, and vans to be 90% electric by 2027

• Require that all new cars entering the Whitehall ministerial fleet of vehicles are electric by 2022

• Introduce a comprehensive package of government support and financial assistance to retrain and re-skill workers in the auto industry. 88% of existing workers have skills that are directly transferable

• Work with vehicle manufacturers, unions and local authorities to deliver and invest in a joint-industry production facility for vehicle battery manufacture in the UK

Roll out a national network of electric vehicle charging infrastructure

• Require that all new developments with private parking have a minimum
of 30% of spaces with charge points. All existing public parking facilities (e.g. NCP, supermarkets, shopping centres, commercial developments etc)
must also provide at least 10% of spaces with charge points by 2021. These are initial targets that may need further scaling up depending on how the
car market develops

• Require all new homes with off-road parking to have a smart electric charging point

• Ensure the full budget of £530 million (comprising a combination of both public and private funding) is available for the public charging network to 2030

• Require distribution network operators and local authorities to identify suitable charging sites where grid costs will be low, whilst giving powers and money for local authority costs to be recouped if necessary

• Ensure that as soon as possible all home charging units are smart and can shift charging times depending on supply pressures/surplus

• Require that Ofgem builds in flexibility to the electricity grid, and allows grid companies to invest ahead of the immediate need to stimulate and effectively accommodate faster update of EVs (and electric heating in buildings)