Decarbonising transport

For a healthier, low carbon transport system for all


Despite the need to rapidly cut emissions to meet the country’s net zero target, transport emissions have remained stubbornly high. It is now the most polluting sector in the UK. As the UK sets out on its economic recovery from Covid-19, there is an opportunity to promote a healthier, low carbon transport system for the future. 

In partnership with business and NGOs, we are undertaking analysis to plug the gaps in transport policy, and working with decision makers to raise ambitions for a clean transport system. Through this three year project we are pushing for a step change, to cut emissions from the UK’s most polluting sector and deliver a wealth of health and economic benefits to people across the country.

So far, our main areas of focus have included:

  1. Pushing the Department for Transport to deliver an ambitious Decarbonisation Plan that puts the sector on track to meet net zero emissions;
  2. Advocating policies for the rapid transition to electric vehicles;
  3. Building on our previous work to bring forward the phase out date for polluting vehicles;
  4. Calling for more ambition on reducing aviation emissions;
  5. Working to ensure that low carbon transport is at the heart of the planning system

Accelerating the electric vehicle revolution

In 2017, we were the first to voice the need to bring the ban on the sale of petrol and diesel cars forward from 2040 to 2030. We collaborated with businesses and NGOs to make the case to government.

In a significant win, in November 2020, Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that the phase out date would be brought forward by a decade, speeding up the transition to electric vehicles and cutting carbon faster from this high emission sector.

We continue to advocate for a successful transition to electric vehicles, including urging the government to introduce a zero emissions vehicle (ZEV) mandate to ensure the successful switch to electric cars.

Read the reports:

Addressing aviation emissions

Aviation is one of the hardest forms of transport to decarbonise.

The government is depending on technology to solve the problem but it will be a long time before zero emissions aircraft can be used commercially. To reach net zero by 2050, other  solutions are needed. Sustainable aviation fuel is an option for the shorter term alongside management of demand. We have looked at how to speed up the use of alternative fuel, particularly power-to-liquid synthetic fuel which can be carbon neutral.

Integrating transport and planning

In collaboration with NGOs, we are working to ensure that low carbon transport is at the heart of the planning system.

Better planning can encourage the uptake of active travel, such as walking and cycling, reduce congestion, improve health, and accelerate emissions reductions from cars.

Pushing for an ambitious transport decarbonisation plan

In 2021 the government published its transport decarbonisation plan, laying out a strategy for how to achieve net zero across the sector.

It’s a good start, but there’s a long way to go. Alongside our NGO partners, we are working to ensure the Department for Transport (DfT) delivers on its climate promises across all modes of transport in the UK.

Funding partners

This programme of work is made possible by the European Climate Foundation and the Quadrature Climate Foundation.

NGO partners

We are working with the following NGOs to deliver ambitious transport decarbonisation.

Explore our work

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