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 the most polluting sector in the UK and the insufficient progress to reduce the sector’s emissions risks the UK’s climate targets.

Sustainable transport networks create an opportunity for healthier, safer and more connected communities.

In partnership with businesses 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 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.

Our main areas of focus have included:

  1. Pushing the Department for Transport to deliver an ambitious Decarbonisation Plan that gets the sector on track to meet net zero emissions;
  2. Increasing the choice of sustainable public transport and active travel options across the country;
  3. Advocating policies for the rapid transition to electric vehicles; while bringing forward the phase out date for polluting vehicles;
  4. Calling for more ambition and immediate action to reduce 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 20240, the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) mandate launched speeding up the transition to electric vehicles which will cut carbon fast from this high emission sector.

We continue to advocate for a successful transition to electric vehicles, including urging the government to introduce more ambitious targets to the (ZEV) mandate.

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 a kerosene tax to manage 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 was a good start, but the plans have not been kept to. 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 by advocating for reviewing and monitoring progress.

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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