Government ducks responsibility in decarbonising transport

Transport Action Network (TAN) has called the Government’s response [1] to the Climate Change Committee’s latest progress report [2], published in June, “underwhelming”. It is concerned that the response reveals that the Government isn’t tackling climate change with the urgency it requires.

Recommendations effectively ignored by the Government include:

  • Net zero test for policies, funding and delivery (R2022-143) – nothing proposed
  • Empowering people to make green choices (R2023-162) – the Government has overseen cuts to bus and rail services and defunded active travel, reducing green transport choices
  • Conduct a systematic review of current and future road building projects (R2023-148) – DfT says its current business as usual approach addresses these issues
  • Restore active travel funding cuts (R2023-150) – the Government says the cuts were needed but doesn’t explain why cuts weren’t made in other (less green) areas instead
  • Address price imbalance between flying and rail in particular (R2022-057) – the Government said it is against new taxes but failed to address how to make rail more affordable

There was also a lack of clarity over rail electrification (R2022-057) and an assertion that the National Planning Policy Framework was good enough to support the transition to a low carbon future, despite concerns that development viability trumps sustainability (Priority R2023-155).

Chris Todd, Director of Transport Action Network said:

“This report had the feeling of a Government that couldn’t care less, not even bothered if its responses were consistent or made sense. It seems to have its head firmly buried in the sand, while the ice sheets are melting and our country floods: indifferent to the costs it is placing on future generations.

“We seem to be subject to ever more ‘doublespeak’, with a Government saying one thing and then doing the exact opposite. This is most clearly illustrated by its claim to promote green travel choices, when it is actively removing them and forcing people to drive.

“On roads, it is business as usual, with no attempt to rein in carbon emissions from increasing traffic. This is putting our 2030 Paris target and sixth carbon budget at risk.”

TAN acknowledged that there was at least some good news in the report in terms of the progress being made by Scotland and Wales on surface transport.

– ENDS –

Notes to editors

[1] Responding to the Climate Change Committee’s (CCC) 2023 Annual Progress Report to Parliament, 26 October 2023

[2] 2023 Progress Report to Parliament, Climate Change Committee, 28 June 2023


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