19 January 2006 NEW INQUIRY

19 January 2006 NEW INQUIRY

Reducing Carbon Emissions from Transport

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) today announces its determination to examine how the UK Government is working to reduce carbon emissions from transport.  This inquiry is in keeping with EAC's commitment, expressed in its press release of 20 July 2005, just shortly after its first meeting in the new Parliament, to "put climate change at the heart of its work". 

Transport is currently responsible for about a quarter of total UK carbon emissions - and this rises to more than a third if all aviation emissions are included.  However, transport's share of total emissions is likely to increase substantially.  This is because carbon emissions from transport are expected to grow by about 10 per cent from 2000 levels by 2010, while emissions from other sectors are due to fall.  In 2004, the Department for Transport (DfT) adopted a Public Service Agreement (PSA) committing itself "to  reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 12.5% below 1990 levels in line with [the] Kyoto commitment and move towards a 20% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions below 1990 levels by 2010". The DfT has also expressed the hope that after 2010 the trend of growth in carbon emissions from transport will change for the better, although some commentators and organisations see little grounds for such optimism. 

The EAC published a number of Reports on aviation emissions during the last Parliament.   This current inquiry will therefore focus mainly on the other forms of transport and the emissions associated with them (road, rail, and the maritime sector).  However, the Committee is also interested in assessing what has changed with regard to aviation emissions since the last EAC inquiry into that subject.

The Committee invites organisations and members of the public to submit memoranda setting out their views on this inquiry.   Some specific issues on which the Committee would welcome comments are set out overleaf, though respondents are free to comment on any issues which they consider relevant.

Written evidence should be sent to the Committee by 24 February 2006.  For printing purposes we require submissions via e-mail to [email protected] in Word format.  We are unable to accept PDFs except for supporting documentation already in the public domain which will not be printed by us.  Although we no longer require a hard copy, it is your responsibility to check that we have received your submission if no email acknowledgement has been received by you. A brief guidance note on the preparation and submission of evidence is available on the Committee's web pages.  For further information on the this inquiry, please telephone 020-7219-1378.

Strategic issues in which the Committee is particularly interested include:

• what progress the DfT is making against key carbon reduction targets or forecasts included in the Ten Year Plan (2000), the Climate Change Strategy (2000),  the 2004 Transport White Paper, the 2004 PSA, Powering Future Vehicles (2004), and other documents;

• whether the DfT's carbon reduction target is underpinned by a coherent strategy stretching across the department's entire range of activities;

• whether the current balance of expenditure between the DfT's objectives (as revealed in its 2005 departmental report, Annex A) adequately reflects the environmental challenges it faces (see note 3);

• what realistically the DfT could achieve by 2010 and 2020 in terms of reducing transport-related carbon emissions, and the role that demand management should play in doing so; and

• what specific steps the department should now take to reduce road transport carbon emissions and congestion over the next decade.

In relation to the Department's low carbon vehicle strategy, Powering Future Vehicles, the Committee is also specifically interested in:

• whether the targets set out in the Powering Future Vehicles strategy were adequate and what progress has been made against them since 2002;

• what organisations and funding sources are involved, whether there is adequate coordination between them, and whether the overall funding available and spent in support of the strategy is adequate in view of the environmental challenges DfT is facing.

Notes for Editors

1. Details of all the Committee's press releases and inquiries, together with its Reports, oral evidence and other publications, are available on the Committee's Internet home page, which can be found at the Committee's website.

2. EAC in the previous Parliament undertook a number of inquiries into aviation and produced several Reports which covered the issue of emissions from aviation. The two principal Reports were the Ninth Report of Session 2002-03, Budget 2003 and Aviation (HC722) and the Third Report of Session 2003-04, Pre-Budget Report 2003: Aviation follow-up (HC233).  Both are available on the Committee's website.

3. Annex A of DfT's 2005 departmental report shows that overall expenditure is expected to rise from £6.9 billion in 1999-2000 to £15.7 billion by 2007-08.   The breakdown of expenditure by its 4 main PSA targets shows that only £461 million of the planned 2007-08 expenditure relates to the DfT's environmental objective.