Memorandum submitted by the Sustainable
1. THE SUSTAINABLE
1.1 The SDC is the UK government's independent
advisory body on sustainable development issues. Climate Change
and transport is a key concern for the Commission. We therefore
welcome the opportunity to contribute to this Inquiry. We strongly
support the emphasis on the need to reduce emissions of CO2
from transport in the period to 2020.
2. CO2 EMISSIONS
2.1 In the 2003 Energy White Paper, the
Government outlined its long-term objective to cut CO2
emissions by 60% from 1990 levels by 2050, with significant progress
by 2020. It is likely that CO2 cuts of more than 80%
by 2050 will now be required, in line with more recent scientific
thinking, and it is increasingly clear that we need substantial
reductions in the period 2006-20 to put us on the right trajectory.
2.2 Transport has an important role to play
in achieving reduction targets. In the transport sector, carbon
accounts for 96% of greenhouse gas emissions. After electricity
generation, the transport sector is the second largest source
of carbon (and greenhouse gas) emissions in the UK and the only
sector where emissions are predicted to be higher in 2020 than
in 1990. Current and future carbon emissions for UK road, and
other transport are detailed in Table 1. Carbon emissions by mode
are provided in Table 2.
CARBON EMISSIONS (MtC) BY ROAD AND OTHER
TRANSPORT IN 2005 AND PROJECTED TO 2020
|Other domestic transport|| 1.8
|| 1.9|| 2.0
|Source: Department for Transport (2005) Transport Statistics Great Britain.
|These figures include personal and freight transport and assume the full impact of the Climate Change Programme. Not including the impact of the CCP would result in emissions being approximately 5.6 MtC higher in 2010.
CARBON EMISSIONS (MtC AND PERCENTAGE) BY MODE IN 2003
|Mode||Source Emissions (MtC)
| Passenger cars||19.8 (56%)
|Light duty vehicles||4.4 (13%)
|Mopeds and motorcycles||0.1 (-)
|Civil aircraft||0.6 (2%)
|Source: Department for Transport (2005) Transport Statistics Great Britain.
2.3 Table 2 shows emissions by mode. End user emissions,
which include a share of the emissions from the combustion of
fossil fuels at power stations and other fuel processing industries
are typically around 10% higher except for rail travel which increases
to 1.5 MtC on this basis. Aviation and shipping figures in Table
2 refer to domestic travel, in line with the UNFCCC reporting
requirements. If international travel is included emissions are
much highercivil aircraft produces 10.6 MtC and shipping
2.4 We respond here to the two strategic issues identified
by the Committee:
What realistically the DfT could achieve by 2010 and 2020
in terms of reducing transport-related carbon emission, the role
that demand management should play in doing so and the specific
steps the department should now take to reduce road transport
and carbon emissions over the next decade?
2.5 We consider the two periods of time together because
most of the steps proposed for 2010-20 require preparatory action
by 2010 and separate personal transport (private and public transport)
from freight. We do not address shipping, but suggest that this
is an area that needs further research and action. Given the remit
of the Inquiry we do not consider aviation here, but note our
concerns in the covering letter.
3. WHAT REALISTICALLY
BY 2010 AND
2020 IN TERMS
3.1 Carbon emissions from private vehicles can be reduced
(i) using more efficient, lower carbon vehicles;
(ii) using lower carbon fuels;
(iii) using existing vehicles more efficiently;
(iv) reducing the number and length of trips; and
(v) using alternative modes.
3.2 In the Sustainable Development Commission response
to the Climate Change Programme Review we outlined how the government
could secure savings of up to 3.5 MtC per annum from the personal
transport sector, which we discuss below alongside the findings
of more recent studies.
Using more efficient, lower carbon vehicles
Changes in Vehicle Excise Duty
3.3 At present, improvements in vehicle efficiency have
been offset by consumers purchasing larger, less fuel efficient
vehicles with increased features such as air conditioning that
raise fuel use. Graduated Vehicle Excise Duty bands were introduced
by Government in 2001 to encourage people to purchase more fuel
efficient vehicles. However, the maximum differential between
each band is £15 and therefore this has had limited impact
on consumer purchasing decisions. The SDC recommended a £300
differential between each band (following research by MORI), and
the introduction of a new higher band of £1,800 a year for
vehicles which emit more than 221g CO2/km. With vehicles
that emit less than 100g CO2/km zero rated, we believe
that this policy would dramatically improve the affordability
and the market demand for highly efficient vehicles such as hybrid
3.4 Our assessment is that the introduction of these
measures would result in savings of 0.5 MtC per annum.
3.5 We proposed that this policy should be brought into
effect in 2008 and the policy should be announced as soon as possible,
preferably as part of the revised Climate Change Programme Review.
3.6 This policy measure would also help contribute to
achieving the Government's Powering Future Vehicle Target for
10% of new vehicle sales to have emissions of 100g CO2/km
or lower by 2012. The market share today is only 0.03%.
Voluntary agreements on emission reductions
3.7 Voluntary agreements on transport emissions reductions,
between car manufacturers and the European Commission, are operational
until 2008-09. The SDC recommends that it is important to set
post-2008 targets now, in order to provide a clear signal of intent
to accelerate the development and implementation of low-carbon
Using lower carbon fuels
Increased use of biofuels
3.8 Biofuels can and should play an increasingly important
role in the UK fuel mix for transport. They can offer reductions
in greenhouse gas emissions, as well as increased opportunities
for energy security, and rural employment. If biofuels contribute
5% of fuels in 2010 Government indicates that carbon savings of
around 1 MtC could be achieved.
3.9 The SDC has examined the impacts of increased biofuel
production in relation to wider sustainable development issues.
We particularly recommend the use of agricultural waste products
including crop and forest residues and animal wastes as the main
source for biofuels. Using primary crops for biofuel production
leads to difficulties in validating greenhouse gas emissions over
the whole life cycle of the crop, and in assessing the potential
impacts in the UK and overseas from loss of biodiversity and water
stress from land use and crop management change, and social impacts
particularly overseas. Using waste products as a feedstock for
biofuels effectively avoids any of these negative impacts and
has the added advantage of productively managing a waste stream.
3.10 Whatever the biofuel source, it is essential that
bio-fuels are accredited, to validate their full life-cycle carbon
savings and to ensure that they are produced sustainably.
Using existing vehicles more efficiently
3.11 We recommend that the DfT examine the role that
changes in speed limits could make to reducing carbon emissions.
France enforced strict speed limits on main motorways in 2004
and succeeded in reducing carbon emissions by 19% and accidents
by 30%. Our assessment is that around 1.5 MtC could be saved per
year through speed control measures.
3.12 In advance of these changes a national awareness
campaign could inform people about the financial costs of speeding
(economic impact of delays due to speed-related accidents, costs
to the NHS), the personal and social costs of injuries and deaths,
and the trivial amount of time saved compared with maintaining
a steady safe speed.
3.13 Assessments suggest that "eco-driving"
could result in emissions savings of around 20% after initial
training and about 5% in the longer term.
This includes shifting into a higher gear as soon as possible
and making sure cars are not carrying unnecessary excess weight
for example empty roof-racks and boxes.
Reducing the number and length of trips
3.14 Improvements in land use planning could result in
reductions in traffic of up to 2% by 2010.
that land use planning policies in combination with transport
measures could reduce transport emissions by 16% over a 20 year
3.15 Current typical housing densities of 30-50 dwellings
per hectare or less will reinforce the dependence on travel by
private car. Housing densities in proposed growth areas and other
new developments need to be at least 50 dwellings per hectare
to justify the provision of comprehensive services including shops,
healthcare, chemists, good public transport links and improved
walking and cycling facilities. Examination of some developments
in the housing market renewal areas reveals the disconnect between
improving the housing standards, encouraging regeneration of the
area, but the failure to embed sustainable transport practices
into the community, as the provision of good bus services, and
attractive and safe cycle routes is not developed at the start
of the regeneration process. This leaves many new residents with
the only option to buy a car to get to work, school or the nearest
shops and services.
Using alternative modesbehaviour change measures
3.16 Technology is often viewed as the primary solution
to reducing carbon emissions from transport.,.
However, both behavioural and technological change are necessary
to reduce transport emissions, because:
measures to influence behavioural change
can be implemented quite quickly;
technological gains may not be as high as
behavioural change may be required to secure
the potential savings from technological change, for example to
turn fuel efficiency into fuel conservation, as the "rebound"
effect of increased travel can be the result of improved efficiency
3.17 Behavioural change measures include green travel
plans, school travel plans, car clubs, information about public
transport, and "lock in" measures to discourage car
use (see below). These measures, could together result in an 11%
reduction in national traffic levels over a 10 year period if
introduced under a "high intensity scenario".
With political will these reductions could be achieved more quickly
and could save 0.5 MtC per annum.
3.18 Traffic reductions will free up road space, which
could then again encourage more car use. It is therefore essential
that demand management measures are introduced that "lock
in" the traffic reduction and carbon savings associated with
behavioural change measures. Demand management measures include:
road space re-allocation in favour of public
transport, walking and cycling;
co-ordinated parking restraints between local
councils to ensure a consistent approach discouraging vehicle
congestion charging to discourage driving
in towns; and
a national road pricing scheme that combines
both congestion and distance charging.
3.19 The SDC supports the introduction of a national
road pricing scheme to help address the social and environmental
costs of transport. We are concerned, however, that road pricing
could lead to increased emissions if it is based only on congestion
or if it replaces incentives to buy more fuel efficient vehicles
(eg fuel duty in a revenue-neutral scheme). If based only on congestion,
cheaper rural motoring and off-peak travel could result in increases
in traffic volumes, and if incentives for more fuel efficient
vehicles are removed then average vehicle emissions are likely
to increase. We therefore recommend that from the outset the scheme
design must take account the need to reduce carbon emissions as
well as congestion, with charge bands graded to reflect carbon
A National Traffic Reduction Strategy
3.20 A national strategy on traffic reduction, with targets,
would be key for a co-ordinated approach to behavioural change
and the associated demand management measures. The two strands
of the strategy could be mutually reinforcing if revenue raised
from demand management measures were used to fund behavioural
3.21 The congestion aspect of the transport innovation
fund and the three sustainable travel towns (Darlington, Peterborough
and Worcester) are potentially important exemplars which demonstrate
the merits of behavioural change and demand management measures,
but mainstream funding is now necessary.
Comprehensive Spending Review
3.22 The forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review is
an opportunity to reallocate more funds to behavioural change
and demand management measures from projects that would reinforce
dependence on travel by private car.
Modal shift from car to public transport
3.23 Modal shift from car to public transport can result
in carbon savings. However, the level of saving depends on vehicle
occupancy, vehicle efficiency and assumptions about the diversion
factor from cars. Assumptions may also need to be made about the
proportion of car journeys that can be replaced by public transport.
The timescale over which the savings are calculated is also important:
in some cases there may be a delay of several years between investment
in public transport, increased rates of use and modal shift. We
suggest that this is an area where further analysis is needed,
in particular to assess the impact that improved public transport
may have in influencing people's transport choices at different
stages of their life. For example, moving house or job is often
linked to new transport choices, and younger and older people
tend to rely more on a pedestrian-scale environment and public
transport. Improvements in public transport may encourage people
not to purchase a car, not to renew it, or to give it up.
3.24 Public transport makes a small contribution to overall
carbon emissions from transport. Buses are estimated to produce
around 1.0 MtC and rail 1.5 MtC each year
(end user emissions).
3.25 Nevertheless reductions can be achieved. Diesel
electric hybrid buses can achieve carbon reductions and fuel savings
of 33% per vehicle kilometre. If all buses were hybrids then about
0.33 MtC could be saved each year.
Reform of Bus Duty Rebates
3.26 Bus companies that operate local and regional registered
bus services currently receive a grant from the Department for
Transport to reimburse 80% of the excise duty paid on the fuel
used in operating those services. This subsidy effectively removes
the incentive for operators to purchase more fuel efficient, lower
carbon vehicles. A review of bus subsidies was undertaken in 2002,
but no changes were made. We recommend that the current subsidy
is replaced with a per passenger subsidy with a support mechanism
to enable concessionary services to be cross-subsidised from the
highly used bus services.
3.27 Carbon emissions from rail could be reduced through
increased electrification. Electric trains offer substantial reductions
in carbon emissions compared with diesel trains. The extent of
carbon savings will depend on the proportion of diesel trains
replaced and the proportion of low-carbon sources of electricity
in the UK grid mix. The DfT should explore the use of its franchise
agreements with train operators as a method for increasing electrification.
3.28 Freight accounts for around 35% of transport emissions
and this figure is expected to increase in the future. Therefore,
the impact of the Sustainable Distribution Strategy on carbon
emissions must be carefully monitored to ensure savings are achieved.
This strategy with associated grants and advice is expected to
achieve savings in the region of 0.4 MtC. Further carbon saving
measures must also be introduced.
3.29 One method would be to further increase the proportion
of freight carried by rail and the waterways. Investment in developing
the capacity of the rail network to accommodate longer and wider
trains, and to improve freight handling facilities will help reduce
the costs of rail and ease potential problems of competition with
3.30 For further savings we outline below the findings
from a study by the Bartlett School of Planning, and Halcrow.
Although the study considers a 2030 timescale, the results may
be of use to this Inquiry.
3.31 The use of hybrid and biofuels technologies could
1.8 MtC (assumes hybrids reduce freight emissions
by 25% and 20% biofuel penetration); and
9.1 MtC per annum (assumes hybrids reduce
freight emissions by 50% and 50% biofuel penetration).
3.32 Load consolidation and reduced transport content
of products ("freight dematerialisation") could achieve
a 19% reduction in billion tonne kilometres and save 2.5 MtC per
annum through measures such as introducing whole life cycle product
responsibility by manufacturers.
3.33 Reducing the distances in the flow of goods, more
localised production and consumption (so-called "freight
subsidiarity"), could save up to 0.7 MtC a year through measures
the promotion of "regional" consumer
by improving public awareness and information,
particularly on the carbon content of goods; and,
differentiated road pricing and increases
in real road transport costs.
Eco-driving (2001) http://www.ecodrive.org/pdf/broschure.pdf Back
WS Atkins and Partners (1999) Assessing the Effects of Integrated
Transport White Paper Policies on National Traffic: Final Report.
WS Atkins and Partners, Epsom. Back
Department of the Environment, Department of Transport (1993)
Reducing Transport Emissions Through Planning. HMSO. Back
Department of Trade and Industry (2002) Energy White Paper: Our
Energy Future-Creating a Low Carbon Economy. Back
UK Government (2005) Sustainable Development Strategy. Back
Cairns S, Sloman L, Newsome C, Anable J, Kirkbride A, and Goodwin
P, (2004) Smarter Choices-Changing the Way we Travel. Back
Department for Transport (2005) Transport Statistics Great Britain. Back
Freight on Rail. Goods without the Bads: A guide to the planning
and developing a rail freight strategy. Back
The Bartlett School of Planning and Halcrow Group Ltd (2006)
Visioning and Backcasting for UK Transport Policy (VIBAT) Stage
3 Report Policy Packaging and Pathways. Back