Select Committee on Environmental Audit Ninth Report

Conclusions and recommendations

1.  Transport has an especially important role to play in responding to the challenge of averting dangerous climate change. The Prime Minister was right to emphasise this in the letter of appointment he sent to the new Secretary of State for Transport in May, where he wrote: "in particular transport will be critical to our long-term goal of reducing carbon emissions". (Paragraph 2)

2.  Progress to date indicates both that reducing carbon emissions from transport is particularly challenging, and that the Department for Transport (DfT) needs urgently to accelerate its efforts: transport is the only sector of the UK economy in which carbon emissions were higher in 2004 than the baseline year of 1990, and the only sector in which emissions are projected to be higher in 2020 than in 1990. (Paragraph 3)

3.  Government projections for future years emissions should be treated with a certain degree of caution. There is some reason to expect that, unless new measures are added, these projections will have to be revised upwards in time. Government projections have often overestimated the future impacts of carbon reduction measures and underestimated total future emissions. There are important discrepancies between the emissions projections made by DfT and those made by the DTI. The Government should review the different methods used by these departments, and look at establishing a more concerted and accurate approach for greater certainty and clarity. (Paragraph 15)

4.  If the Government's estimate of a 1.7MtC saving from the two new measures in CCP 2006 were correct, emissions from domestic transport would be projected to stand at around 43.1MtC in 2010, roughly the same as they were in 2004. This would represent the first time in years in which the growth in carbon emissions from domestic transport had flattened out, certainly a significant achievement. (Paragraph 20)

5.  Given that overall projections of carbon savings in the 2000 Climate Change Programme have had to be revised downwards in the 2006 version, we should treat these projections with some caution. And even if they are accurate, their value is reduced because they do not take into account emissions from the fastest growing source, aviation. In fact, none of the existing measures in the Climate Change Programme has any impact on this sector. (Paragraph 20)

6.  Even with the addition of the two new measures in CCP 2006, transport's net annual carbon savings in 2010 are now estimated to be some 0.5MtC below the lower end of the Government's original projections made in 2000. This betrays a dismal failure of purpose from the Department for Transport. (Paragraph 21)

7.  We find it disappointing that, following the abolition of the fuel duty escalator, and with other policies not coming into effect for several years, the Government currently has only one policy instrument—the "Voluntary Agreement package"—fully in operation and delivering significant savings in carbon emissions from transport. (Paragraph 22)

8.  In defending his Department's record on this issue, the Secretary of State was keen to point out that nearly a quarter of all the carbon reductions in the Climate Change Programme 2006 come from transport. However, the existing measures which are the responsibility of the Department for Transport itself amount to only around 3.6% of the CCP's 2010 savings. Considering that this department has policy responsibility for the worst-performing sector of the economy in terms of carbon emissions, this is not nearly good enough. (Paragraph 23)

9.  In view of the imperative to take bold actions in order to help avert dangerous climate change, the Department should actively encourage modal shift towards lower carbon modes of transport, and discourage marginal car and plane journeys. As part of this, the Government should take much more decisive action to shift the balance of affordability more in favour of trains, buses, and lower carbon cars and lorries. (Paragraph 26)

10.  While we recognise the difficulties in decoupling economic growth from increases in carbon emissions in the transport sector, we are concerned that the Department seems to have a fatalistic attitude which sees carbon-intensive activities and economic growth as going hand in hand. The Department must be much bolder in intervening to break the upward spiral of economic growth leading to higher emissions.

11.  Because it is a global problem, whose worst effects we have not yet felt and are concerned to avert, climate change is a case in which it makes less sense to hand over decisions on infrastructure priorities to local and regional control, where more local and short term priorities will naturally predominate. At the very least, local and regional authorities need to be given very strong leadership and guidance on reducing carbon emissions by central Government. This is certainly not the case in guidance on the Transport Innovation Fund. The Government must ensure that TIF-funded projects give greater prominence to averting climate change. (Paragraph 30)

12.  DfT's PSA on climate change is failing as a mechanism that might shine a light on the Department's efforts and hold it to account. DfT reports progress against all its PSA targets in an appendix of its Annual Reports. At no point does the Department quantify the carbon emissions resulting from transport as a sector, much less report that transport is the only sector in which emissions have been rising consistently since 1990 and are projected to carry on rising. In this way, the Department is able to claim credit for being on course to meet the UK's Kyoto target, even while it is presiding over the worst performing sector of the economy in terms of trends in emissions. (Paragraph 32)

13.  Whether a formal PSA target or not, the Government should establish a sector-specific target for carbon emissions from transport. DfT should be given ownership of this target, and should clearly and in detail report progress against it in its Annual Reports. (Paragraph 33)

14.  The VIBAT study should be an enormously useful resource in that it has quantified different policy instruments and examined the timelines in which they could be introduced and take effect. We were therefore dismayed by the Secretary of State's defensive distancing of the Department from this study. We urge the Department to closely examine the VIBAT study in order to construct an ambitious and well-thought out target, specifically for reducing carbon emissions from transport. (Paragraph 34)

15.  Average emissions of new cars in the UK have certainly been declining in recent years, reaching 169.4 grammes CO2 per kilometre in 2005, a reduction of 20g/km, or 10.7%, since 1997. All the same, at this rate of progress, the average will only be reduced to around 164g/km by 2008, meaning that the UK would not achieve the EU target of 140g/km until around 2022. In addition, the UK is lagging behind other European countries: for 2004, the UK ranked ninth out of the 13 EU states for which data are currently available, with new car emissions standing some 7g/km above, and the rate of progress since 1998-9 behind, the EU average The Department for Transport should lead the Government in taking decisive action to improve this record. (Paragraph 44)

16.  Given that increasing the proportion of new cars that run on diesel is a very major factor in the Voluntary Agreement package—transport's biggest contribution to the UK Climate Change Programme—it is surprising that the Government does not provide any direct financial incentives for diesel over petrol. While there may be concerns about the air quality implications of increased diesel use, and about availability and price of diesel in the European market, the Government should at least set out explicitly why it is not providing such incentives, and what impact their absence is having on the UK's progress towards the Voluntary Agreement target for reducing the average carbon emissions of new cars. (Paragraph 47)

17.  The Government deserves praise for being the first in Europe to introduce vehicle taxes specifically based on CO2 emissions. In particular, its boldness in reforming Company Car Tax from 2002 has been rewarded by the visible progress made in that market. (Paragraph 51)

18.  Reforms to Vehicle Excise Duty, however, have been much less impressive, even allowing for the changes announced in Budget 2006. Tax differentials between higher and lower carbon cars must be made much wider if they are to drive market transformation. We note that in its submission to the Climate Change Programme Review, the Sustainable Development Commission stated it had "modelled the carbon savings that could be achieved through new VED rates. Our proposal is that […] that there is a £300 gap between each band. So the top band of VED would rise dramatically to £1800/yr […] and below this the bands would be at £1500, £1200, £900, £600, £300, and £0". The Department should publish its calculations of resulting carbon savings from adopting such £300 differentials between Bands. (Paragraph 52)

19.  In particular, the new Band G is ineffective—and needs to be substantially raised in cost. As things stand, the VED paid by the highest emitting 4x4s and luxury saloons in Band G represents a lower percentage of their sales price, and works out at half the cost per gramme CO2 emitted, than lower emitting hatchbacks in Band C. (Paragraph 53)

20.  Progress against the central target in the Powering Future Vehicles Strategy—that by 2012, 10% of all new cars would emit under 100g/km—has so far been microscopic. Given that around 2.5 million new cars are sold each year in the UK, the Government's target would require sales of some quarter of a million low carbon cars in 2012. In 2004, the number of such sales reached a grand total of 481. In 2005, this figure declined to 467; and as of July 2006 there was only one such model available for sale at all, with sales for the first half of the year of 188. (Paragraph 54)

21.  In order to help increase sales of the lowest carbon cars, the Department should work with the Energy Saving Trust to ensure that its transport fuel infrastructure grants significantly increase the availability of fuelling stations and electrobays for electric cars. (Paragraph 54)

22.  The Department's argument for scrapping its low carbon car grants is that these would only cover 30-40% of the additional purchase costs of such vehicles, and that this is not enough to achieve market transformation. This would seem to apply equally to the existing VED structure, and support the case for much higher differentials. (Paragraph 56)

23.  At the same time, we welcome the announcement that these grant monies will be reallocated to a new communications campaign to promote consumer information on the most carbon-efficient cars. However, the Energy Saving Trust also told us that they had previously proposed setting up just such a package, but that DfT had turned them down. The result is that for 18 months there was neither the grants programme nor the communications campaign. This suggests a lack of focus and leadership from within the Department. In order to play a truly effective role in nurturing new technologies and achieving market transformation, it is essential that the Government is both clear in its own mind as to how to achieve its goals, and shows long term commitment to them. (Paragraph 57)

24.  There is great scope for progress using currently available technology, simply by influencing consumers to choose the lowest emitting cars in each class. But in order for this to be realised, car manufacturers and traders need to be given a greater incentive to sell more lower carbon cars, and this means a much stronger regime of sticks and carrots. We welcome the hints made by the new Secretary of State that he would consider pressing for the successor to the current EU Voluntary Agreement to be made mandatory —and we urge him to do so. In addition, and in advance of a new Europe-wide Agreement, the Government should implement a feebate or certificate trading scheme, in order to give the industry a genuine incentive to develop and promote more low carbon vehicles. (Paragraph 60)

25.  In the meantime, given the urgent need for a step change in the take up of low carbon emission vehicles we strongly recommend that the existing differentials in VED between different categories of cars are widened substantially. These changes could be introduced at once on a revenue neutral basis and would reward consumers for making greener choices as well as encouraging manufacturers to produce more greener cars. We also urge the Government to examine whether differential rates of VAT can be charged on new cars to benefit the lower emission models. (Paragraph 61)

26.  Even if the Voluntary Agreement very substantially increases the carbon-efficiency of car travel, it is less certain when—or if—it will start reducing carbon emissions from road transport in absolute terms. If cars with inferior g/km are not scrapped but remain on the road, then the reduction in emissions of new cars will only have a limited effect; and will in addition be offset by the simple increase in car journeys resulting from an increase in the number of cars owned. Equally, it is important that the sustainable production of new cars and disposal of old cars is central to whatever succeeds the current Voluntary Agreement. Finally, we are also concerned that technology is not moving fast enough. All this strongly suggests that the VA approach is not enough; it must also be complemented by measures to curb the amount that people drive. (Paragraph 63)

27.  We welcome the announcement in CCP 2006 that "Obligated companies will be required from day one to report on the level of carbon savings achieved and on the sustainability of their biofuel supplies." However, it is not clear whether the proposed assurance scheme is intended, not just to assure the sustainability of biofuels imported into the UK, but to have an effect on global biofuels production. The Government should emulate the leadership it has shown on sustainable timber, and work to establish a rigorous international standard on sustainable biofuels production and procurement. (Paragraph 68)

28.  The fuel duty escalator has played an important role in helping to reduce the increase in CO2 emissions from road transport. Given the transport sector continues to present seemingly intractable problems of emissions growth, the Government should seriously reconsider the case for annual increases in fuel duty, with appropriate exemptions for lower carbon fuels, and accompanying investments in public transport to provide revenue neutrality. Given the huge sensitivities of this issue, particularly at a time of high oil prices, there can be few more urgent issues on which those who have argued for an all-party consensus on climate change policy should now focus their attention. (Paragraph 71)

29.  We strongly support the introduction of a national road user charging scheme as soon as technically possible—and would support the revival and early introduction of the formerly proposed Lorry Road User Charge. However, it is absolutely vital that such a scheme is designed to reduce carbon emissions, not just congestion. The Secretary of State must clarify his position on this, and make an unequivocal commitment to using road charging markedly to reduce CO2 emissions. Failure to do so would undermine any claims DfT has to take climate change seriously. (Paragraph 75, 77)

30.  Given that the range of Smarter Choices measures do not require large material infrastructure projects, they can deliver significant carbon (and congestion) reductions rapidly and cost-effectively. We welcome the Department's announcement of forthcoming campaigns to promote eco-driving, its expansion of the Travelling to School Initiative, and its increase of funding of Cycling England. But it must broaden and accelerate implementation of such measures, and set itself an ambitious target of CO2 savings to be achieved as a result. In conducting promotional campaigns, the Department should also learn from Transport for London's experience in using advertising to promote individual choice of low carbon modes of transport. Eco-driving should be incorporated into the driving test, and eco-driving simulators should be used in schools (Paragraph 79)

31.  We understand the Government's reluctance to lower the motorway speed limit, or rigorously enforce the current 70mph limit, given the likely public controversy such a policy would provoke. However, compared to the potential danger which this could help to avert, proper enforcement of the legal speed limit would be a trivial incursion on personal liberty. The Government cannot forever duck the hard decisions in its duties to face up to "the greatest long-term challenge facing the human race", in the words of the Prime Minister. In matters of such grave importance, the Government does a disservice to future generations by running scared of critical tabloid headlines. Beyond its direct impact, a new policy on speed limits would help to raise awareness of the reality of climate change, and of the need for everyone to take action on it. Finally, in considering a design for a national road charging scheme, the Government should choose one that could cost-effectively aid enforcement of the motorway speed limit. (Paragraph 82)

32.  One of the most effective means the Government has of constraining emissions from road transport is to reduce reliance on car use through planning regulations which can shape the areas in which people live. The Department for Transport and the Department for Communities and Local Government must work more closely together to ensure that new developments, especially in the housing growth areas, are designed to minimise car use. Planning policy, in particular, should include specific measures for reducing road journeys. (Paragraph 83)

33.  We warmly welcome the announcement of increased funding for Cycling England. But the Department should accelerate progress by implementing lessons from the Dutch commitment to continuous improvement of cycling infrastructure. (Paragraph 85)

34.  We were unimpressed by the Secretary of State's defence of the Government's record on road building. Estimates of CO2 emissions arising from road proposals should be subject to independent audit. Furthermore, given that, by its own admission, more road space leads to more traffic and emissions, the Department should deliberately apply more stringent criteria to appraisals of proposals for the construction of new roads relative to lower carbon alternatives, such as the combination of public transport improvements and demand management measures. (Paragraph 88, 89)

35.  Allowing regions the freedom to nominate projects for funding seems mainly to have resulted in a very high proportion of bids for road projects, although there have also been some major public transport proposals such as the Manchester Metrolink extensions. The Government should ensure that infrastructure proposals from both national agencies and local authorities are governed by a more integrated planning and appraisal process, and that rail proposals are assessed alongside competing road proposals. In putting forward and assessing the merits of different proposals, such a process should take into account the transport needs of each region as a whole, while assessing the combined national impact of such proposals on the UK's overall carbon reduction targets. (Paragraph 90)

36.  Buses can make a significant contribution to carbon reductions, if they can attract passengers out of their cars. But CCP 2006 makes no mention of seeking to achieve modal shift from cars to buses. The Department should explicitly adopt modal shift from cars to buses as an environmental objective, and set itself a target of emissions savings to be gained as a result. (Paragraph 91)

37.  Given that the Climate Change Programme 2006 contains a mere 79 words on the role which buses can play in reducing carbon emissions, we are somewhat surprised that 31 of these words are devoted to the Department's policy on Quality Contracts. Not only has there never been a single Quality Contract established, the previous Secretary of State seemed to admit it was a failed policy. Something much more effective in enabling authorities throughout England to apply the kind of powers currently enjoyed only by Transport for London should be introduced as an urgent priority. The current deregulated system has been heavily criticised by both the Transport Committee and the Public Accounts Committee. The fact that the arrangements outside London are also undermining climate change policy should be the final straw for the deregulated system in its current form. (Paragraph 94)

38.  We warmly welcome the recent statement by Ms Merron to the Transport Committee, as to the Department's examination both of the evidence behind the differing success of different bus services, and of the legislative and funding options which could be employed in shaping the future of bus policy. This hopefully indicates a very positive move on the part of DfT, and we look forward to developments under the leadership of the new Secretary of State. (Paragraph 95)

39.  We are surprised that the Department does not intend to reinstate the Low Carbon Bus Grant programme. We are left asking: just how is the Department going to incentivise bus operators to introduce low carbon vehicles on a large scale? This must be explicitly addressed as part of the review of the Powering Future Vehicles Strategy. (Paragraph 98)

40.  The example of Sweden's local bus fleets demonstrates the progress that can be made today in using sustainably produced biofuels to meet a significant element of society's transport needs. By acting early, Sweden appears also to be handing its bus manufacturing industry a potential competitive advantage. The Department must accelerate progress in the use of biofuels and biogas buses in England, beginning by identifying and tackling the current barriers to take up. (Paragraph 99)

41.  With a new sense of stability, and with the Department's announcement of work on a long term strategy, the time is right for the rail industry to incorporate climate change policy into its major priorities. In particular, the advantages of rail over road and air travel in terms of carbon emissions must be fully taken into account in, and add weight towards, any consideration of investment to expand capacity the network. This must apply equally to consideration of whether to cut or retain existing local services. (Paragraph 100)

42.  We would support proposals for the construction of new high speed rail links, both for the role they would play in directly achieving modal shift from air to rail, and for leading to a freeing up of capacity on the existing network. At the same time, it is important that in taking forward any proposals for new high speed services, the Department looks to choose a design which is as energy efficient as possible. (Paragraph 102)

43.  Local rail services are vital for creating sustainable communities. They help to boost long term economic prosperity while managing demand for car journeys, and hence carbon emissions. We cannot see the logic, at a time when we need to be accelerating the UK's carbon reduction efforts, in proposals to reduce local train services. All decisions on the future of individual local services must be subject to thorough and transparent assessment, which views them extremely negatively if they are estimated to lead to an individual rise in carbon emissions. (Paragraph 104)

44.  We second the Transport Committee's conclusion that the current ticketing structure of train operating companies is "not fit for purpose". In order to assist modal shift, the Department should take responsibility for ensuring rail fares and booking are simplified and made more transparent, and should also encourage the creation of user-friendly means of booking rail tickets to European destinations. (Paragraph 107)

45.  Given that the railways are such important customers of power companies, the industry could make a significant contribution to expanding renewable energy generation in the UK. The Department should act to enable it to do so. At the same time, now that service levels of the network have regained stability, the Department should look to addressing barriers to improved energy efficiency. (Paragraph 108)

46.  There are clear advantages in terms of carbon emissions of shifting freight from road to water, and the Department for Transport needs to do more to actively encourage this shift. (Paragraph 110)

47.  We urge the Government to lead the international community in drawing attention to carbon emissions from international shipping, and to make sure they are brought under an effective reduction regime in the post-Kyoto phase. The Government should work to achieve earlier progress by pressing for an effective EU strategy on reducing emissions from shipping at European ports, and for bilateral agreements on taxation of shipping fuel with other Member States. As a first step, the Government should press the European Commission to give greater prominence to publishing annual figures on emissions from international shipping, both aggregated for the EU as a whole and by individual countries. (Paragraph 111)

48.  Sadly, little has changed for the better since EAC's last report on aviation. Progress on introducing financial mechanisms to reduce the growth in emissions from flying is slow, and both the Government and the industry are as intransigent as ever. We urge the Department to widen the terms of its current progress review of the 2003 Future of Aviation White Paper into a fundamental rethink of its airport expansion policy. (Paragraph 113)

49.  The Government is right when it acknowledges that flying is a big contributor of carbon emissions and therefore to climate change, in addition to its negative contribution to air quality and noise pollution. But what this means is that while the aviation industry can be allowed to thrive and even to grow, this can only take place within strict limits. We note the proposal of the Aviation Environment Federation, that demand for flights be managed to ensure that emissions from UK aviation remain constant in absolute terms, by limiting growth in passenger numbers to no more than the rate at which the industry improves its fuel (hence carbon) efficiency, currently some 1-2% a year. We would support such a proposal if it could be guaranteed to prevent an absolute rise in emissions. The Department should implement demand management measures straightaway; but to develop its use of such policies, it should commission and publish research on demand management policies which would generate predictable levels of passenger numbers and emissions outcomes. (Paragraph 114)

50.  Even under the Government's own and most optimistic projections, every other sector of the economy would have to cut its share of UK emissions, while that of aviation would be assisted to almost quintuple. Given that these are both "best case" figures and do not take into account radiative forcing, this is likely to be a very substantial understatement of the actual figure to which the Government's current expansion policies are leading. Power companies, manufacturers, retailers, households, motorists and hauliers are already going to have to make significant efforts to decarbonise their lives and livelihoods. If the Government continues in its policy of allowing just this one industry to grow, it will either cause severe pain to all other sectors or provoke so much opposition as to fatally undermine its 2050 target. If their joint PSA target is to mean anything, the Department for Transport must work with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to construct a new approach to aviation which constrains its future growth. (Paragraph 116)

51.  While we acknowledge the significant potential benefits of including aviation within the EU ETS, there remain very considerable uncertainties to be resolved before we can have confidence that such benefits would actually be realised. This underlines the need for the Government to step up still further its negotiations with European partners—and to take much bolder action unilaterally in the meantime. (Paragraph 122)

52.  On the timing of inclusion of aviation in the ETS, we noted that the Secretary of State would not give an opinion on when he thought it would happen, but merely confirmed that it was still the Government's "ambition […] to try and secure that entry from 2008 or as soon as possible thereafter." Indeed, the Secretary of State himself drew attention to ongoing opposition to the inclusion of aviation in the ETS from European airlines and governments. We also learned that the Government has not even begun to talk to the UK aviation industry about what level of carbon allocations it should receive within the ETS. While we commend the very significant leadership which the Government has shown in raising this issue up the European agenda, the evidence we have received suggests that inclusion of aviation within the ETS is still several years away. (Paragraph 123, 124)

53.  This highlights the need for the Government to start actively preparing a "Plan B" for dealing with CO2 from UK aviation. However, when we pressed the Secretary of State on what this alternative plan was, he claimed that even to hint at what and when it might be would undermine the Government's efforts to persuade other EU governments to agree on inclusion of aviation in the ETS. We fundamentally reject this argument. Indeed, we would argue that to publish proposals and a timetable for UK action (to be taken if the ETS route were taking too long) would actually increase the pressure on all parties to agree to an early inclusion of aviation in the ETS. The Department should publish such a timetable and set of proposals as soon as possible. (Paragraph 125)

54.  It is scandalous that governments around the world have failed to grasp the nettle of taxing aviation fuel. It is equally scandalous that no Member State within the EU charges VAT on international air tickets. While this would require co-ordination across the EU, individual States are free to impose VAT on domestic tickets. Beyond this, in 2001, the Government made reforms to Air Passenger Duty (APD) which had the effect of cutting the tax on most short-haul flights from £10 to £5. Budget 2006 froze APD for the fifth year running with its only reform being to cut the tax on economy flights to Croatia by £15. (Paragraph 126)

55.  The Government has no excuses for not raising Air Passenger Duty. When we have recommended this in the past, the response has been that APD is a "blunt instrument" that does not differentiate between the relative carbon-efficiency of different flights. Our response to this is that APD could be levied per flight, rather than per passenger. Above all, however, whether reformed or not, APD should be raised so as to slow the growth of aviation and stabilise its absolute level of emissions. (Paragraph 130)

56.  At the same time, we welcome the Secretary of State's acknowledgement of the potential role that differential landing fees could play, and urge him to introduce them. They could be used to complement a reformed and increased APD, in that they could specifically target the fuel efficiency of different models of aircraft. (Paragraph 131)

57.  The Government has the power to increase taxes on domestic flights: it should do so, and as soon as possible. It should further work to conclude bilateral agreements with European partners to levy additional taxes on flights between them. Revenue generated as a result could be put towards investment in improving rail services, including high speed rail links, and to accelerating the development and introduction of more energy efficient aircraft designs. (Paragraph 132)

58.  We heard from BAA that airport vehicles are allowed to run on "red diesel"—taxed at 6.44p a litre—because they do not run on public roads, even though airports are major sources of both carbon emissions and air pollution. This anomaly should be ended forthwith. (Paragraph 133)

59.  The Government should study how best to raise public awareness of the climate change impacts of flying, and of the undesirability - and ultimately impossibility - of ongoing increases in flights within a declining carbon budget. As part of this, the Department should force airlines which operate services from and within the UK prominently to display (eg, on all their adverts, tickets, and webpages) a fuel efficiency label, similar to that for new cars, based on the average fuel efficiency of their entire fleet which flies out of UK airports. Additionally, wherever airlines advertise the routes which they operate from the UK, they should be compelled to state the relevant carbon emissions per passenger—according to a nationally-set methodology for calculating them - alongside the fare. (Paragraph 135)

60.  We welcome the Government's new commitment to offset all its air travel through the new Government Carbon Offsetting Fund. Equally, we share its enthusiasm for voluntary offsetting schemes. Given that offsetting payments are relatively cheap, help to tackle climate change, and can be used to improve the lives of deprived communities in the developing world, the Government should make them a compulsory charge on all airline tickets. It is important, however, that this is accompanied by rigorous auditing of the projects funded as a result. Moreover, the public should not be encouraged to think that offsetting implied that growth in aviation emissions was environmentally tenable. (Paragraph 137)

61.  We welcome the Government's commitment to keep its assessment of the radiative forcing (RF) of aviation under review, as further scientific evidence becomes available. This is particularly welcome, given that the paper it relies upon states that, depending on the results of further study into the effects of cirrus clouds, "It is possible that the total aviation RF could be twice as large as the total RF given here." In its current progress review of the Future of Aviation White Paper, the Department should clearly state how it proposes to alter its aviation policies, should further research indicate that the effects of cirrus clouds are indeed so large. (Paragraph 140)

62.  We note that while CCP 2006 cites several examples of international co-operation with developing economies, designed to help them make carbon reductions—it does not mention any projects designed to help other countries reduce their emissions from transport. The Government must work with international partners to develop such projects on a wide scale. (Paragraph 141)

63.  There are conflicting views in the "peak oil" debate. We would observe, however, that even if the Government's projections of conventional reserves extending to 2030 are correct, this is still quite a short time, given transport's current 99% reliance on oil, and the lifetime of major infrastructure projects. While the Government also projects that improved technology and unconventional reserves could extend this period by another 30 years, we are concerned that the recovery and refining of such reserves could itself lead to higher "well-to-wheels" emissions. All this speaks of an extra imperative for the Department to make a step-change in funding and policies to wean the UK off the use of fossil fuel oil. The Government should commission its own equivalent to the US Hirsch Report, and study the example of the Swedish policy to reduce oil use by 2020. (Paragraph 149)

64.  Growing political pressures over the need to reduce carbon emissions, the possibility of a sharp and prolonged fuel shock following peak oil, the complications caused by the development and rolling out of new fuels and technologies, and the potential divergent economic outcomes that follow rapid change to transport and communications, are projected to put transport at the very heart of public policy. The Department should closely examine the findings of the Intelligent Infrastructure Systems programme, in terms of both measures that could be taken to reduce carbon emissions, and ways of winning public support for them. (Paragraph 150)

65.  As this report sets out, transport is both the most technically difficult sector in which to reduce carbon emissions and also the most politically difficult. Indeed, the latter is a result of the former. Significant cuts in emissions from transport also require widespread behavioural change. Such change challenges one of the very keystones of modern society - the deeply cherished and ever-expanding sense of personal freedom and mobility that has followed the increasing affordability of both driving and flying but which involves profligate consumption of energy. (Paragraph 151)

66.  Governments at home and abroad must urgently inform the public about the reality and dangers of climate change, and the measures we can all take to avert it. We do not underestimate the problem which this poses for any elected politicians. This underlines the need, as this Committee has consistently argued, for a cross-party approach to the important and difficult measures necessary to tackle climate change. In taking forward the recent Energy Review and switching the focus of transport policy, we urge the Government to show courage in challenging popular preconceptions in order to serve the people's long term interests. (Paragraph 152)

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