Putting the Brakes on Climate Change: A Policy Report on Road Transport and Climate Change

More affordable cars, rising incomes and a land use policy favouring out-of-town shopping centres and greenfield housing developments have all led to growing dependency on transport by car. Road vehicles currently account for 22% of UK CO2 emissions, which could rise to 29% by 2020 (overtaking domestic, industry and service sectors), and make it the only sector with rising emissions in the period to 2020.

Road traffic emissions increases have largely been offset by improvements in vehicle efficiency. But in future, fuel efficiency improvements are unlikely to keep pace with traffic growth. Rising road transport CO2 emissions could, if not addressed, endanger the prospects of meeting the Government’s 2010 target to cut CO2 emissions by 20% compared to 1990 levels. After 2020, the continued increase in emissions from road transport could start to raise total UK CO2 emissions again and begin to erode the carbon savings anticipated from greater energy efficiency and renewable electricity use. Urgent action is therefore needed to reduce the growth in CO2 emissions from road transport.

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