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Transport and climate change

Transport is the UK's largest emitter of greenhouse gases. While emissions from energy supply have fallen by 60% since 1990, emissions from transport have fallen by just 2%.

The Government has committed to a target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, but concern is already growing that transport’s slow progress will stop us from meeting this target. 

Existing transport policy must rapidly change to meet the scale of the transformation necessary.

For a start the Government should bring forward the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2035 to 2030 at the latest. Electric cars will play a central role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, as well as cleaning up the toxic air in many of our towns and cities, and we cannot allow another generation to pass before we take the most polluting vehicles off the road.

Of course, we can't rely on electric cars alone; we also need to develop a cleaner bus fleet. We're calling for a National Bus Strategy which includes a commitment to a zero-emission bus fleet by 2025 - with a manufacturing sector deal to make the UK a world leader in building zero emission buses.

Important rail electrification schemes have recently been halted. Our research has shown that growth in rail travel has supported a reduction in carbon emissions, but the Government's cancellation of electrification schemes is undermining this and efforts to clean up transport are likely to stall unless a rolling programme of rail electrification is reinstated.

Finally, the Government needs to do more to improve walking, cycling, car-sharing and public transport, as well as rail freight, to make these greener options more attractive and convenient. The way transport is funded and priced must change, to hasten the transition to sustainable modes. 

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