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Third report of Committee on Climate Change

Sian Berry's picture

30 June: The third annual report from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) was presented this morning. Whilst overall progress towards the UK’s carbon reduction targets is not very encouraging, there is some good news within the transport sector.

The final emissions figures for non-aviation transport were not available for inclusion in the report, but data on distances travelled, as well as the four transport ‘indicators’, was. The report concludes that road transport emissions will probably have fallen slightly in 2010, as they did in 2009, as a result of less distance travelled and more efficient car engines.


  • Distance travelled by car fell 2% between 2009 and 2010.
  • Distance travelled by van rose 1%.
  • Distance travelled by HGV fell 4%.
  • New car emissions continued to fall markedly, continuing a trend started in 2008, which has seen 14 g/km of CO2 lopped off the average emissions of a new car.
  • Biofuel use also rose by 0.7% of the market, by volume.

The distance figures above look promising, but the report concludes that this was largely due to the dampening effects of the recession in 2009, and the continuing downturn and cold winter in 2010. The report notes that had the weather been warmer that winter, underlying trends mean that total transport emissions might have been up to 1% higher.


The Committee’s other indicators are also a mix of good and bad news:


  • Biofuel penetration, mainly from small amounts being added to regular fuels, was up by 0.7% of fuel by volume, compared with a target of 0.5%.
  • Electric car take-up failed to grow as expected, despite a £5k incentive now being provided by the government – just 167 new electric cars were registered; nowhere near the target of 5,000.
  • Eco-driving training was also lagging behind – only 10,000 courses were taken, compared with a target of 300,000.

On wider behaviour change, the report finds that Smarter Choices programmes, such as travel plans, car share schemes and awareness campaigns, are such good value for cutting carbon in urban areas that it recommends the Government’s new Sustainable Transport Fund ought to be supporting a range of these schemes in cities and towns across the country.


Planning changes remain a cause for concern (see this earlier blog on the planning shake-up), with the CCC also interested in what the new planning rules will contain, pointing out that "developments in larger urban areas are likely to result in lower transport emissions than out-of-town developments."

Finally, the report warns that speeding on motorways has increased with 52% of cars now exceeding the 70 mph limit on motorways, pushing carbon emissions up. The Committee criticises the Government on this and warns that an increase in the speed limit, which is being considered, could result in emissions up to 3.5 MtCO2 higher than currently estimated.

Read the full report here: http://www.theccc.org.uk/reports/3rd-progress-report