Climate week challenges everyone to think about how they can help prevent climate change. Government targets for reducing greenhouse gases are to cut them by 50% from 1990 levels by 2027 and 80% by 2050. Given transport is responsible for around a quarter of UK domestic carbon emissions, the Department of Transport is investing in solutions that will mitigate the climate change impacts from transport.
With a week of activities around the country, climate week is inspiring everyone to think about how they can help prevent climate change, because if we don’t act and act now, the consequences for humanity are potentially catastrophic. And that’s why the Department for Transport is very focused on meeting government targets for reducing greenhouse gases, which are to cut them by 50% from 1990 levels by 2027 - and 80% by 2050.
Given transport is responsible for around a quarter of UK domestic carbon emissions, these are tough challenges to meet, especially as we still need cars, vans trucks, trains and planes to move people and goods around and sustain growth. But we’re committing a lot of money to solutions that will mitigate the climate change impacts from transport.
For example, we’re putting £400 million into electric and low carbon vehicles. Cars powered by electric batteries and hybrid technology are already a reality on the UK’s streets. Anyone purchasing an electric car can benefit from a government subsidy of up to £5,000 towards its cost.
And we recently launched our new Plug-in Van Grant, so electric van man or indeed woman, can now receive 20% - up to £8,000 - off the cost of plug-in vans.
And, alongside the vehicles, a network of charge points are springing up around the country, backed by private and public sector support, making it even easier for people to switch to low-carbon vehicles.
We’re also supporting the use of sustainable biofuels so that vehicles powered by the traditional internal combustion engine become less greenhouse-gas-intensive in the future.
But this isn’t just about cars. In towns and cities across England we’re helping to fund hundreds of Green Buses that emit nearly a third less carbon than their conventional counterparts.
And, by backing a new high speed rail route from London to Birmingham with future extensions to Manchester and Leeds, we believe significant numbers of long distance journeys could be switched from road to rail.
Of course, there’s plenty more that can be done to bring our existing infrastructure up to scratch. So we’re “greening” our railways - replacing diesel trains by electrifying key lines and reducing power consumption per train.
In turn, our commitment to the EU’s emissions trading system means the aviation industry has to keep emissions below a fixed limit or pay for extra cuts to be made elsewhere.
At the local level of course it’s local people not central government who are in the best position to know what travel alternatives would suit the area where they live.
That’s why our £560 million Local Sustainable Transport Fund is giving local authorities the power to bid for the schemes that are right for them - whether that’s enhancing light rail facilities:improving routes for walking:or providing cycle paths.
Importantly, not only does this funding provide communities with better transport connections, they also give people genuine low-carbon travel choices.
And finally, we’re encouraging business to think about alternatives to travel, whether it’s enabling people to work away from their offices or cutting out unnecessary business journeys by using technology like video conferencing to link people in different parts of the country.
Every government department is engaged in thinking through the carbon impact of its policies and devising new ways of cutting emissions whether its in industry or power generation. And as you can see, the Department for Transport is playing its part, working very hard to maintain our lifestyles and develop growth, whilst at the same time tackling climate change impacts.