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Traffic reduction route map: Strong target, poor plan.

Published 06 April 2022 by Transform Scotland

Transform Scotland has today published its response to the Scottish Government’s consultation on the ‘20% reduction in car kilometres’ route map.

We strongly support the target and commend the Scottish Government for its ambitions here. Cutting traffic levels is essential for reaching our legally binding climate targets as it has been concluded that switching to electric vehicles will not in itself be sufficient. 

However, it will be hugely challenging to reverse the decades of uncontrolled car usage. Reducing car kms by 20% by 2030 will require deep political commitment at all levels. It will necessitate the implementation of a radical set of policies at a swift pace, which in itself is a radical change from the procrastination that has characterised the past couple of decades.

Transform’s policy officer Marie Ferdelman commented:

“Meeting the 20% car kilometre reduction target would be transformational for the Scottish transport system. It would reduce our reliance on cars, open many new opportunities to improve public transport and active travel and contribute to revitalising local economies. 

“Yet without a clear plan to achieve this target it is unlikely to be reached. The current version of the route map does not leave us feeling confident that it will be. The Scottish Government needs to be clear about how the target can be achieved and fully commit to the actions that are required to reverse the trend of ever-increasing car use on Scottish roads.”

The lack of a clear plan in the road map, as well as the absent car demand management framework – which is not set to be published until 2025 – will make the implementation and achievement of this policy extremely difficult.

Instead, the International Energy Agency’s March 2022 ‘10 point plan to reduce oil use is an excellent example of how this route map should now be structured to provide the relevant information to judge whether the proposed policies will be sufficient or not in achieving the target.


Notes to editors:

  1. The report “Decarbonising the Scottish Transport Sector” by Element Energy, commissioned by the Scottish Government, found that to meet climate emission targets car kms must be reduced by 20% between 2019 and 2030.
  2. Transport is the largest emitting sector in Scotland and emissions from cars accounted for 39% of all transport emissions in 2018.
  3. Reducing car kilometres by 20% would take Scotland back to levels of car use last recorded in 1994.
  4. Due to the popularity of SUVs, the average emissions per km from newly registered cars has been rising since 2016, despite the increased uptake of electric vehicles in the last years.