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Reaching Net-Zero in the Transport Sector

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On 2nd June, 2020 the Net-Zero All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) held a webinar to discuss decarbonising transport with a keynote address from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Transport, Rachel Maclean MP and Shadow Minister for Green Transport, Kerry McCarthy MP. The meeting was attended by other high-level government officials and innovative corporate and business leaders who show support of a Net-Zero pledge such as Centrica, Barratt, and WSP. 

We joined the Tuesday call to hear the on-going plan to decarbonise across the transport sector with emphasis on encouraging more immediate change. Given current disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic there is an expectation that as we move out of lockdown that we are likely to see a shift in the way we use and relate to transport and travel. As the lockdown has eased in the UK, private vehicle use has risen much more quickly than public transport use, which signals a potential worry in the short-term. To fully recover, we will need to harness the positive behavioural changes needed to benefit the environment and put net-zero as the main focus of UK transport policy. For example, promoting cycling and e-bikes.

Last October, the Government announced plans to decarbonise the transport sector by 2050 which came just four months after the UK created legislation for net-zero emissions by the same deadline.

The Government says: “…with the move to net zero, there is a need to go further and faster to reduce emissions. The Transport Decarbonisation Plan will take a coordinated, cross-modal approach to deliver the transport sector’s contribution to our decarbonisation targets.”

The APPG meeting provided proof that there remains strong support for Net-Zero policies in the transport sector and that the government continues to understand that in order to meet the targets set by the IPCC, and the UK’s Climate Change Committee, things need to move faster. A ‘green recovery’ would also help support needed infrastructure and innovation which in turn will help rebuild the UK’s economy.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “From driving our cars, to catching a train or taking a flight abroad, it is crucial that we ensure transport is as environmentally friendly as possible. This is why, as well as agreeing to the CCC’s recommendation on net zero by 2050, we have launched this ground-breaking plan to achieve net zero emissions across every single mode of transport.

“We want to work with industry and communities around the country to develop this plan – to make our towns and cities better places to live, help to create new jobs, improve air quality and our health, and take urgent action on climate change.”

Many large companies are making a move towards Net-Zero such as Mace, a construction industry leaders and pioneers for sustainability in construction, who have committed to a 2020 Net-Zero strategy. EMSOL is currently working with Mace enabling them to take targeted actions to improve air pollution and reduce outdoor workers’ exposure to ambient air pollution, helping them to achieve a key aspect of their current strategy.

Those from the construction industry agree that they are theoretically able to reach low or zero emissions in the long run but want to know how to make a bigger impact. They are keen to understand how they can start reducing air and noise emissions at their job sites starting now. EMSOL is already working with partners in the construction and fit-out industry enabling them to take specific targeted actions every day to reduce pollution.

With the policies in place at the government level and strong support from across the industry, it looks like reaching Net-Zero goals is a will become a reality. Businesses should now have the confidence to invest in the tools that will help them achieve these ambitious goals in a rapid and targeted way.

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