The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has urged the government to provide greater long-term certainty on policies that enable the UK transport industry to invest in emission-reduction schemes and vehicles.
It said many existing policies and funding streams for the transition to a low-carbon economy are due to end by 2020 and should be extended as soon as possible to give confidence to investors and support innovation.
Domestic transport accounted for 22% of total UK greenhouse emissions during 2014 – a rise of 1.1% and a reversal of the 1.1% average decline per annum seen since 2009.
In its first report to the new government, the CCC reports on data from last year and makes recommendations on how to improve transport’s carbon impact.
CO2 intensity of new cars and vans had continued to improve, but the report flags up growing concern about the widening gap between test-cycle and real-world emissions testing. There has also been little progress on developing post 2020 CO2 targets for cars and vans or developing CO2 regulation for new HGVs.
Electric vehicle sales have quadrupled during 2014, with many new models available. However, barriers to electric vehicle uptake must be addressed, including the provision of a national network of charging points and continued support for vehicles’ upfront costs while they remain more expensive than conventional options.
Penetration of biofuels increased from 2.9% by energy in 2013 to 3.2% in 2014, with almost half derived from waste.
The committee recommends that vehicle taxes keep pace with technological changes and improvements to CO2 levels, with a greater differential between rates for high and low-emission vehicles.
It also urged pioneering schemes from larger freight operators to reduce fuel costs and lower emissions should be rolled out across the whole industry, including smaller operators.
Following the CCC report, the Freight Transport Association (FTA) has called for more government support to help transport operators make carbon savings, such as directing biomethane gas towards transport instead of electricity generation.
FTA’s Logistics Carbon Reduction Scheme (LCRS) is an example of the type of successful emissions-reduction initiative the report recommends is rolled out across the whole of industry, said Christopher Snelling, head of urban logistics.
The scheme has been running for five years and has 110 members, responsible for more than 77,000 commercial vehicles.
“We have discussed our work with the CCC on many occasions and it is gratifying to have the approach of the LCRS supported in this way. LCRS members consistently make greater carbon reductions than non-members, so now we want to work with as much of the logistics industry as possible to make this even more of a success in the future,” Snelling added.