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E-vehicles are not the holy grail to saving the planet, claims new report

14 December 2017

A report released today claims relying on electric vehicles to halt future carbon emissions from transport is simply not enough to tackle climate change and that urgent action is needed now.

Environmental quality, climate change and transport innovation, produced by think tank Tracks, argues that as most traffic emissions from transport are from urban areas, the Government should focus its policies on influencing the way we use transport in our towns and cities by providing good alternatives to the car in order to reduce the volume of traffic on our roads, thereby reducing overall emissions.

The report argues that this would be a far quicker way to tackle emissions than relying on future innovations to clean up today's transport model and urgency is necessary because carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for over 100 years, so the longer we wait to take action, the more difficult it will be to change the effects of climate change on our planet.

The report has been produced by think tank Tracks, which aims to promote research and discussion on key transport issues. Stephen Joseph, Chief Executive of Campaign for Better Transport, which established the Tracks programme, said:

“This report highlights the dangers of simply buying into a techno fantasy with e-vehicles as the holy grail. Transport emissions present a very real and urgent threat and we must start reducing them now, not in 2050. This report shows that there are policies the Government could, and indeed should, be implementing tomorrow to actively reduce the volume of traffic on the roads by influencing transport behaviour, starting in our cities. That way technological advances in fuel and autonomous vehicles will be applied to the way we should be using transport in the future, not the way we use transport today.

"What we now need from Government is clear, decisive action if we are to have environmentally sustainable transport in the future.”

With economic, social and technological changes already transforming the way we use transport, the report looks at:

  • How technology can reduce carbon emissions from transport
  • The truth about autonomous vehicles and their impact
  • How disruptive technologies are affecting transport now and in the future
  • How the Government’s transport forecasts can be used to predict what policies would produce the greatest reduction in traffic growth
  • How the inevitable changes to transport taxation will affect Government funding
  • How current policies can influence future public behaviour and choice.

Keith Buchan, who wrote the report for Campaign for Better Transport, said: “Given the huge changes which are taking place there is great uncertainty over the future. However, this should not prevent us from understanding those changes and, most importantly, how we can provide the framework within which they can help to solve the urgent problems of climate change and social division, rather than distract us from doing so or even making them worse.”


For further information and copies of the report please contact Alice Ridley on 020 7566 6495 / 07984 773 468 or alice.ridley@bettertransport.org.uk

Notes to Editors

  1. Environmental quality, climate change and transport innovation was produced in partnership with Alstom. Please click on the link below to download a copy of the report.
  2. Tracks is a dynamic thought leadership programme set up by Campaign for Better Transport to react to contemporary issues in the transport sector.  
  3. Campaign for Better Transport is the UK's leading authority on sustainable transport. We champion transport solutions that improve people's lives and reduce environmental damage. Our campaigns push innovative, practical policies at local and national levels. Campaign for Better Transport Charitable Trust is a registered charity (1101929).