Government announces Transport Decarbonisation Plan

Government announces plan to decarbonise all modes of domestic transport by 2050 and reduce emissions to net zero


Transport Secretary Grant Schapps has announced a revolutionary transport decarbonisation plan, setting out a pathway for the transport sector to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

The plan builds on previous policies introduced in England that have seen an investment of £2 billion, over 300 cycling and walking schemes and also outlines several proposals to decarbonise the sector, cutting emissions from all modes of transport. 

Plans for domestic transport

A key aspect of the plan is the pledge to phase out the sale of new diesel and petrol heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), with a proposed phase out date of 2035 for vehicles weighing from 3.5 to 26 tonnes, and those over 26 tonnes by 2040.

The government has also published a plan that brings together all current measures to decarbonise cars and vans. It also sees the current target date for the whole government fleet of 40,000 cars and vans to become fully zero emission brought forward by three years to 2027.

In a commitment to electric vehicles, and as a response to the electric vehicle smart charging consultation, all private EV chargepoints will have to meet smart charging standards. 

In terms of public transport, the government is also publishing its rail environment policy statement, which will set out the direction of the rail industry on environment issues such as traction decarbonisation, biodiversity and waste.

Elizabeth De Jong, Director of Policy at Logistics UK said “The Transport Decarbonisation Plan will help to provide logistics businesses with confidence and clarity on the steps they must take on the pathway to net zero.

“With logistics already embracing the need to decarbonise its operations Logistics UK looks forward to working in partnership with the government on future action and strategies to realise the net zero ambitions together.”

Plans for aviation

The plan details a commitment for the aviation sector to reach net zero by 2050 by launching the Jet Zero consultation, while also ensuring everyone can continue to fly for holidays, visits to family and business without contributing to climate change.

Emma Gilthorpe, COO of Heathrow and Jet Zero council CEO, said: “I welcome the leadership from government in committing to a target of net zero emissions from aviation by 2050 and recognising that the aviation industry is committed to delivering on this, too.”

However, there is no mention of stopping airport expansion or reducing growth in passenger numbers, which has received criticism from environmental groups who say demand for flying and driving must be restrained if targets are to be met.

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said it was “a missed opportunity to really rethink how we reorganise how we travel” and further criticised the plans for relying on aviation technology that’s still being developed.

Greg Archer, UK Director of the Europe-wide green transport campaign group Transport & Environment said: “To ensure the UK meets its climate targets, the government will need to convert its raft of new proposals into measures that rapidly change how people and goods move. 

“More difficult decisions to reduce vehicle use and flying and reallocate spending towards green transport options will be needed but this plan signifies a commendable and substantial shift in the right direction.”