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Transport priorities must change to achieve a Green Recovery

Published 09 February 2021 by Transform Scotland

Dualling of the A9

Ahead of this afternoon’s Scottish Parliament debate, we have published a parliamentary briefing welcoming the Scottish Parliament’s Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee’s inquiry report on Green Recovery.

The Government’s Climate Change Plan update contains a number of welcome measures for transport (e.g. 20% traffic reduction target) but will require further strengthening (e.g. inclusion of traffic demand management measures) before it has a realistic hope of delivering deep cuts in transport emissions. A key priority for delivering a Green Recovery within transport must be an immediate stop to building additional road capacity. As such we welcomed the ECCLR Committee’s recommendation that

“transport budgets and fiscal incentives [be] targeted at reducing demand for travel by car and
encouraging the use of active and sustainable modes, e.g. prioritising investment in active and
sustainable travel infrastructure rather than additional road capacity.” (p34)

To achieve a just, green recovery we require an urgent transformation of the transport budget, priorities, policies, and governance structures on transport — and how we are connected, based on recovery to good health and the principles of avoid, shift, improve. As such, in our briefing we set out priorities for action in these areas:

Avoid: 

  1. Invest in digital infrastructure, broadband provision and co-working hubs across Scotland, to enable choices and ensure workers have access to spaces with social connections and resources needed.

Shift: 

  1. Financially incentivise Local Authorities to reallocate road space to prioritise active travel on a permanent basis.
  2. At this moment, not every child has a safe active route to school that allows for physical distancing. There is no specific funding directed towards providing a safe, distanced route to School and no requirement to audit or deliver it. This should be a right for every child.
  3. A framework for action on buses should be a priority for a just, green recovery. Scotland should be prioritising bus over car. As a nation that makes low and zero emission buses and exports them globally, there are huge opportunities in manufacturing buses; as well as global leaders in bus we also have many small, rural businesses providing bus and coach services.
  4. Sustainable work and travel policies should be mandatory across the public sector, ensuring a shift in commuting and business travel is made wherever possible.

Improve:

  1.  Iconic electric zero emission buses made in Falkirk should be showcased at COP26 in Glasgow, demonstrating Scottish leadership in this industry. Our cities should be at least in line with those committed to zero emission transport by 2025.
  2. Scotland needs to see action on rail electrification between the Central Belt and Aberdeen and Inverness. This alone could enable 96% of passengers to travel on zero emission rail and also shift freight from road to rail reducing emissions and improving safety. T