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CCC again fails to lead criticism of high-carbon transport priorities

Published 09 December 2020 by Transform Scotland

Commenting on today’s ‘Sixth Carbon Budget’ from the UK Committee on Climate Change (CCC), Transform Scotland director Colin Howden said:

“The ambition for a 70% cut in surface transport emissions by 2035 is laudable. However, in transport at least, the CCC continues to concentrate on technofixes, missing the wider co-benefits from a greater focus on the genuinely sustainable future provided by active travel and public transport.

“The CCC does give somewhat greater attention to demand reduction and the opportunities for modal shift than in some of its previous reports. Indeed, in the next five years, the CCC assumes that demand reduction measures will have the greatest impact in reducing transport emissions. [1] However, the overwhelming focus remains on electric vehicles, a technofix which the CCC itself admits has substantial expected negative repercussions.

“The report notes that electric vehicles will lead to decreasing tax receipts and will be likely to increase vehicle use. It is welcome that the CCC notes that road pricing will be necessary to counteract this, but it is disappointing that this is not picked out as a key policy that is required to tackle the considerable negative impacts of the switch to electric vehicles. [2]

“The CCC forecasts a 9% reduction in car travel by 2035, achieved by home working and modal shift to walking, cycling and public transport. [3] This is great, but the CCC will also need to persuade local and national governments who continue to pursue ‘predict and provide’ transport policies, not least Transport Scotland’s projections of huge continued traffic growth & its multi-billion pound road-building programme designed to cater for this growth. So even the CCC’s 9% traffic reduction projection will be impossible to meet barring comprehensive policy and investment priority changes from government.

“Unfortunately, the CCC has again pulled its punches, failing to set out clear criticism of the existing high-carbon focus of government investment. It makes a single tangential reference to road-building, but avoids making any recommendations for changes to existing capital expenditure priorities.” [4]


[1] Figure 3.1.a (p97)

[2] Page 307 states that “some form of road pricing is likely to be necessary”.

[3] p97

[4] p97