"Everything is Awesome..."
Some positives first – the UK’s transport industry has been pushing Government for guidance on how it intends to deliver on the legally binding target to achieve net zero carbon by 2050 since pretty much the day after its original Decarbonising Transport Strategy was released. This follow-up Plan, published 16 months later, brings much of the detail needed to appreciate how Government foresees being able to achieve that aim; and was developed with input from a range of public, government and industry stakeholders.
The formation of a Net Zero Transport Board is also encouraging; signalling Government’s intention to hold itself to account over the long-term life of this plan. The founding group’s broad mix of members and perspectives is constructive, although the absence of representation from Network Rail, Rail Delivery Group, Highways England, and any key maritime or aviation industry bodies feels like an oversight. That the group is chaired by the Secretary of State and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, and does not invite cross-party collaboration, suggests the important mission to decarbonise Britain’s transport systems will remain politicised – perhaps missing an important ‘trick’ to ensure this existential issue is more consistently baked-in to every political agenda and election manifesto for years to come (saving much debate in the process).
There is also a refreshing honesty in some areas. The Plan recognises we will continue to learn the true scale of the challenge involved in addressing man-made climate change, and the technological solutions needed to reduce carbon footprints from all transport modes to net zero by 2050.
It also appreciates the interconnectedness of many transport services – reflecting the reality of many people’s everyday journeys – and
In summary, the proposals are progressive and effectively link rising carbon emissions from transport with climate change, worsening air quality in towns and cities, and a host of social / health / economic inequalities. For some though this is long overdue, and only now recognises challenges we have been teaching our children in schools since the early 1990’s. recognises interdependencies with energy, business, innovation, health and skills/training/education sectors (but without getting bogged down by them).