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UK Department for Transport Introduces Framework to Deliver New Low Carbon Transport System

Growth in UK GDP and transport kilometers. Click to enlarge.

UK Secretary of State for Transport Ruth Kelly introduced a new framework to deliver a transport system to support the UK economy and to reduce carbon emissions. The framework, Towards a Sustainable Transport System, is the Department for Transport’s response to both the Eddington Transport Study and the Stern Review of the Economics of Climate Change. (Earlier post.)

The discussion document argues that forcing the pace of technological improvements and removing the obstacles to behavioral change will be key to ensuring transport makes a substantial contribution to the goal of at least a 60% reduction of CO2 by 2050.

A fundamental goal of transport policy must be to ensure that the transport sector plays its proper role in our fight to tackle climate change. Professor Sir Nick Stern argued that this does not have to be an either/or choice. A well-designed strategy can support economic growth and tackle carbon emissions.

Fundamentally, we need to get the prices right to cover the environmental and congestion costs of transport, to encourage technological innovation, to promote behavioural change, and to be smart with our investment decisions. If we do that, we can support people’s desire for mobility, whilst still ensuring that transport contributes to the overall reduction in emissions which the Government will enshrine in legislation through the Climate Change Bill.

—Rt. Hon. Ruth Kelly

The document has three aims. First, it describes how the department is responding to the recommendations made in the Eddington Transport Study and the Stern Review of the Economics of Climate Change. Second, it sets out department policy and spending plans for the period to 2013/14. Third, it proposes a new approach to the longer term transport strategy and explains how the department will engage with passengers, users, the transport industry and other stakeholders as we develop and implement that process.

The UK government’s agenda, as expressed in the framework, consists of five broad goals:

  1. To maximize the competitiveness and productivity of the economy. The challenge is to improve the performance of the existing network, focusing on the most unreliable, congested and crowded sections in order to improve ‘predictable end-to-end journey time’ for travel to work, and for domestic and international business trips and goods movements.

  2. To address climate change, by cutting emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

  3. To protect people’s safety, security and health.

  4. To improve quality of life, including through a healthy natural environment.

  5. To promote greater equality of opportunity.

The document demonstrates how this new approach to planning will be underpinned by long term funding. The recent Comprehensive Spending Review means that the Department for Transport now has a long term funding guideline to 2019 and that spending on transport will be double what it was twenty years previously.

Given that transport spending takes time, investment plans up to 2013/14 are largely set and funding over the next six years will be focused on the most congested routes.

Beyond 2014 the document shows that more than £20 billion (US$41.1 billion) of Government funding could still be allocated to specific improvements up to 2019. This funding, when combined with further private sector investment, would give the opportunity to make substantial further improvements to the country's transport network.



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