UK government unveils transport decarbonisation plan

15th July 2021


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Christopher Welsh

The sale of new diesel and petrol heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) will be banned in the UK by 2040 under proposals unveiled in the government's transport decarbonisation plan yesterday.

Combined with the 2035 phase out date for polluting cars and vans, the announcement represents a “world-leading” pledge to end the sale all new polluting road vehicles within the next two decades.

Subject to a consultation, new vehicles weighing 3.5 to 26 tonnes will be banned by 2035, while those weighing more than 26 tonnes will be phased out by 2040, or earlier if a faster transition is feasible.

The transport decarbonisation 'greenprint' also includes plans to increase support for active travel, such as cycling and walking, and to create a net-zero rail network by 2050, and a net-zero domestic aviation industry by 2040.

Zero-emission road vehicles alone having the potential to support tens of thousands of jobs worth up to £9.7bn in 2050, while also cutting pollution and traffic, according to the Department for Transport.

“Decarbonisation is not just some technocratic process. It’s about how we make sure that transport shapes quality of life and the economy in ways that are good,” said transport secretary Grant Shapps.

“It’s not about stopping people doing things, it’s about doing the same things differently. We will still fly on holiday, but in more efficient aircraft, using sustainable fuel. We will still drive, but increasingly in zero-emission cars.”

“The transport decarbonisation plan is just the start – we will need continued efforts and collaboration to deliver its ambitious commitments, which will ultimately create sustainable economic growth through healthier communities as we build back greener.”

To help the transition to zero-emission vehicles, the government has published a green paper setting out the regulatory framework requiring manufacturers to improve the fuel efficiency of new cars, vans and HGVs.

It has also published a 2035 delivery plan, which brings together all the measures for decarbonising cars and vans, from across government, into a single document.

Mike Thompson, chief economist at the Climate Change Committee, said that the transport decarbonisation plan “looks in line with our recommendations”, but warned that the devil we be in the detail.

He added: “We look forward to scrutinising the government’s proposals fully and carefully while we await delivery of other key roadmaps on heating, hydrogen, food, biomass, the Treasury’s Net Zero Review, and the government’s overall Net Zero Strategy.”

Image credit: iStock


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