DfT's priorities and targets
28. The Department conveys the consistent impression
that, while it does acknowledge climate change as a serious problem,
and while it is pursuing some dedicated policies to this end,
it treats climate change as simply one priority among many others
it must juggle, such as road congestion, economic productivity,
and air quality. In other words, it is not treating climate change
seriously enough. This was certainly Friends of the Earth's
argument, in drawing our attention to recent comments about a
future national road charging scheme made by the Transport Minister,
Stephen Ladyman MP.
29. To take another high profile example, in the
2004 Future of Transport White Paper, the Department announced
the creation of a Transport Innovation Fund (TIF), which is set
to become the single largest source of public investment in transport.
In guidance published in January 2006, the Department states:
"Through the TIF, we will be able to direct resources towards
the achievement of two very high priority key objectivesspecifically
tackling congestion and improving productivity." It then
explains that there will be two kinds of proposals for funding:
"proposals which are principally "congestion schemes"for
which bids are invited from local authoritiesand those
which are principally "productivity schemes"for
which the Department will identify potential schemes after seeking
the views of the Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) during the
early part of 2006."
Given that one set of proposals are to come from individual local
authorities, who are directed to make bids to ameliorate congestion,
and that the others are to be influenced by RDAs, who are directed
to think about regional economic development, it looks less than
likely that, as currently designed, the TIF will bring forward
many proposals primarily targeted at tackling climate change.
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.
31. Since Spending Review 2004, DfT has had a Public
Service Agreement (PSA) target on climate change:
To reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 12.5% below
1990 levels in line with our Kyoto commitment and move towards
a 20% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions below 1990 levels
by 2010, through measures including energy efficiency and renewables.
However, DfT shares this PSA with the Department
for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Department
of Trade and Industry (DTI), and there are no sectoral targets
for reductions in emissions specifically from transport. We received
a number of submissions criticising this arrangement as failing
to provide precisely the impetus to action, through accountability
for a set target"representing
a contract between the public and Government"
- that the PSA regime is meant to achieve. As an example, Greg
Archer of the Low Carbon Vehicles Partnership told us:
] The Department for Transport has a whole number of different
priorities around managing demand and congestion, infrastructure
to meet increased capacity, social equality issues; CO2
issues are just one of their many priorities. The Partnership
has felt for some time that the absence of a sectoral target for
transport emissions and for road transport emissions specifically
means that there has not been the focus on controlling transport
emissions generally within the Department for Transport because
there is not an overall target that the Department is trying to
achieve. We recognise that they share in the PSA 20 per cent
target but there is no clarity as to what proportion of that overall
burden the Department for Transport is actually taking. I am
not saying that transport should have the same target as other
sectors; it should just have a target that it is working towards
so we can see what progress it is actually making. [
that clarity and that directional policy I am afraid the Department
for Transport will never put together the package of measures
which are needed to address this issue.
32. It would certainly appear that 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.
In the relevant part of its Annual Report 2006, while the Department
does (though still in extremely skimpy detail) report progress
against the "Fuel efficiency of vehicles" and "Carbon
content of fuel", this is not put into context to allow a
reader to judge what the contribution of these measures is to
the overall PSA target. Against this overall target, the
Department solely gives the collective progress against
the Kyoto target and 2010 domestic targets. 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.
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.
34. The question this begs then is what exactly that
target should be. The Department has already commissioned a major
piece of work which should shed very useful light on thisthe
"Visioning and backcasting of UK transport policy",
or VIBAT report, by Professor David Bannister and David Hickman.
This examined the potential for a 60% CO2 reduction in the UK
transport sector over the period 1990-2030. The report concluded
that this target is achievable, and came up with a series of individual
policy proposals that would add up to the specified savings, while
stressing that reaching the overall target would require a combination
of both technological improvements and behavioural changes. While
the Government would be free to set whatever specific target it
would like, which would not necessarily be 60% by 2030, 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.
In other words, VIBAT should be capable of giving policymakers
invaluable assistance in constructing a challenging but deliverable
target for carbon reductions from transport. 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.