Select Committee on Environmental Audit Written Evidence

Memorandum submitted by Dr Jillian Anable, The Centre for Transport Policy, The Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen; Dr Sally Cairns, Transport Studies, University College London and Sustainable Communities, Transport Research Laboratory; Dr Lynn Sloman, Transport for Quality of Life; Alistair Kirkbride, Eco-Logica; Carey Newson, Transport for Quality of Life; and Prof Phil Goodwin, The Centre for Transport and Society, University of the West of England


  This memorandum gives the main findings from a research study, entitled "Smarter Choices and Carbon Emissions" undertaken for the Department for Transport, mainly completed by September 2005. This examined the potential to reduce carbon emissions from car traffic via a range of local transport initiatives, which are increasingly being known as "smarter choices".

  Below, the main findings from the study are outlined, followed by the contact details for those involved in the study [not printed], and the full executive summary [not printed]. The main report is approximately 100 pages long.

  The findings are particularly relevant to the committee's questions:

    —  what realistically the DfT could achieve by 2010 and 2020 in terms of reducing transport-related carbon emissions, and the role that demand management should play in doing so; and

    —  what specific steps the department should now take to reduce road transport carbon emissions and congestion over the next decade.

  Specifically, the study suggests that greater investment in a much more intensive programme of smarter choice measures could deliver a relatively significant reduction in carbon emissions, with high cost:benefit ratios.

  This study was a follow-up to original research by the same authors, which suggested that, in 10 years, in an appropriate policy context, implementing an intensive package of smarter choice measures could reduce national traffic levels by 11% overall, and up to 21% in urban areas at peak times.


  Smarter choice measures are packages of locally specific, small scale initiatives aimed at promoting and enabling travel behaviour change. Under favourable policy conditions, they could save the equivalent of up to 2.5 million tonnes of carbon (MtC) per annum in 2015, and a cumulative total of 14.2 MtC by that date. By 2010, the potential savings would represent a 16% contribution to the DfT's PSA target to reduce carbon emissions, and would equal 31% of the emissions savings currently expected from a combination of all the 10 Year Plan policies and the EU Voluntary Agreement on cleaner cars.

  The benefit:cost ratio of a high intensity programme of smarter choice measures is estimated to be between 4:1-10:1, but may be in excess of 30:1, depending on the valuations used and the range of benefits that are factored in.

  We identify the four most important overarching policy changes that could help to achieve these outcomes as being:

    (a)  more flexibility for local authorities to use Local Transport Plan funds for revenue type measures;

    (b)  incentives and encouragement for local authorities to adopt large scale smarter choice programmes;

    (c)  grants for staff in local authorities to develop large scale smart choice programmes;

    (d)  changing the guidance for the Transport Innovation Fund to put more emphasis on developing "harder edged measures" in parallel with a smarter choice programme, to maximise the benefits of both.

  We also recommend that specific policy effort is focussed on those smarter choices measures that have the most potential to deliver behaviour change in the next decade. These are workplace travel plans, car sharing, teleworking, teleconferencing and personalised travel planning. Teleconferencing has the potential to reduce air travel as well as car use, and may therefore be especially significant in the context of addressing climate change. Key measures include changes to the planning system to make workplace travel plans more rigorous and effective, fiscal changes to make travel planning more attractive to companies and an overhaul of Government policy on parking. For personalised travel planning, priority should be given to assisting local authorities in building internal capacity to deliver large-scale programmes.

  Further, we recommend that the government facilitates the development of newer smart measures such as residential and visitor travel plans and car clubs.

  In terms of costs, it should be noted that three of the overarching policy recommendations are about government policies and procedures and do not require extensive new public funding. Recommendation c) is accompanied by a specific proposal which is estimated to cost approximately £50 million pa. Overall, the study estimated that achieving the full potential of smarter choice measures would cost somewhere between £300 to £500 million pa by 2010 and £0.62 to £1.1 billion pa by 2015, equivalent to 4-6% of predicted DfT spending in 2015.

February 2006

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