UK must reduce car travel by at least a fifth to meet Paris goals – report

8th February 2019

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Stuart McHendry

The UK will need to reduce its car journeys by at least a fifth to deliver its fair share of global emission cuts, a report from Friends of the Earth has revealed.

The researchers estimate that car travel will need to fall between 20% and 60% by 2030 depending on how fast the UK decarbonises its energy grid and switches to electric vehicles.

This comes after official government figures revealed this week that transport accounted for 27% of greenhouse gas emissions in 2017 – more than any other sector.

Friends of the Earth said that reducing car journeys would require a “radical re-imagining of transport“, and argued that the time has come to introduce free bus travel across the UK.

The NGO's head of research, Mike Childs, said: “Free bus travel for the under-30s first, before widening the scheme would make for more livable cities and cut damaging greenhouse has emissions.

“Dozens of cities across the world offer some form of free public transport. It would cost around £3bn a year but this is a fraction of the money spent on roads.“

Instead of investing more in public transport, Childs said that the government has reduced or removed 3,300 bus services over the last 15 years while increasing fares by 75%.

Transport for Quality of Life, which co-produced the research, highlighted how around 100 towns and cities worldwide have introduced free bus services, including 30 in the US and 20 in France.

It said that there are at least 16 ways in which local authorities currently raise funding, including payroll taxes, local sales taxes, property taxes, visitor taxes and others.

For example, the French public transport payroll levy is controlled by local authorities and provides a relatively stable income stream by levying businesses with 11 or more employees.

“Businesses support it because it pays directly for public transport improvements, and they recognise that good public transport benefits their employees and increases the economic health of their town,“ the researchers said.

“We need to move away from the narrow idea that funding for public transport can only come from fares and government grants, and explore ways that local authorities could also raise funding locally.

Image credit: iStock


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