Shifting Emissions Into Reverse Gear

Delivering deep cuts in UK surface transport emissions requires not only rapid technological change but also a significant improvement in the overall efficiency of the transport system.

UK carbon emissions have fallen by over 42% since 1990, thanks mainly to actions in the power sector. Other parts of the economy now need to deliver deep emissions cuts, especially surface transport which is currently the largest emitting sector of the UK economy and one where emissions have broadly flatlined since 2008.

Accelerating the transition to a zero carbon transport system would provide significant environmental, social and economic benefits. Beyond the imperative of addressing climate change, tackling road emissions will improve poor air quality, which is currently the most significant environmental risk to public health in the UK.

The global zero emission vehicle (ZEV) market is rapidly growing and is projected to reach £1–2tn per year by 2030, representing a sizeable export opportunity for those countries that take a lead in the manufacturing of ZEVs and the development of smart transport solutions.

Building on the government’s Road to Zero Strategy, this report sets out key policies and priorities needed to deliver deep emissions cuts in surface transport, which will play a key role in meeting the UK’s legally binding carbon budgets, the government’s Future of Mobility Grand Challenge and beyond.