UK car travel needs to be reduced by a quarter to meet net zero aims

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Transport is the fastest growing source of global GHG emissions and the biggest polluting sector of the UK economy. A new report suggests that car travel needs to be reduced in the UK by a quarter to stay on track for net zero goals.

In its 2022 Progress Report to Parliament, the Climate Change Committee (CCC) concluded that current Government policy will not achieve net zero.

It cited the uptake of electric cars and deployment of renewable electricity as areas of progress.

However, it said that Government transport policy was too focused on private cars. 

According to Government data, 12 percent of harmful nitrogen oxide (NOX) emissions came from cars alone.

Claire Haigh, founder and CEO of Greener Vision, commented on the new report, saying it was important to highlight the impact of petrol and diesel.

She said: “Our dependency on fossil fuels is at the root of the climate emergency, as well as the cost of living and energy security crises. 

“If we are to wean ourselves off fossil fuels, we must reduce energy demand and ensure that net zero is at the heart of all public policy decision-making. 

“We cannot afford any backsliding on decarbonisation. 

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“We urge the new Prime Minister to tackle the worst cost-of-living crisis in a generation in a way that will accelerate the transition to net zero and enhance our energy security.”

Following the announcement from Liz Truss to implement an energy price cap at £2,500 for a typical household, many are looking at the Government to go further.

The Office for Budget Responsibility expects natural gas to remain at least three to four times the average pre-Ukraine invasion price until 2027.

In addition to this, the price and petrol and diesel remains high, with many calling on drivers to switch to electric vehicles.

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Earlier this year it was suggested that a “car-free Sunday” could be introduced to help reduce emissions across the country.

Based on estimates, if car-free days were utilised in large cities every Sunday, around 380,000 barrels of oil per day would be saved.

When using this method only on one Sunday per month, the use of around 95,000 barrels would be avoided.

The Government published its “Build Back Greener” report to outline its “Net Zero Strategy”, setting out its policies and proposals to decarbonise all sectors of the UK economy.

As part of this, the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans will be banned from 2030.

A similar ban will take place in 2035, when all new cars and vans will need to be zero emission at the tailpipe.

Another ban, which is subject to consultation, will see the ending of sales of all new, non-zero emission road vehicles by 2040.

This is set to include motorcycles, buses and HGVs.

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