Environmental Audit Committee

Reducing Carbon Emissions from Transport Key Conclusions and Recommendations from the Ninth Report

Reducing Carbon Emissions from Transport Key Conclusions and Recommendations from the Ninth Report

Key findings and recommendations of the Report include:

CO2 from transport: progress since 1990, the Kyoto baseline year

€ Between 1990 and 2004, overall UK carbon emissions declined by 5.6%, from 161.5MtC to 152.5MtC. But emissions from transport within the UK increased by 10%, from 39.2MtC to 43.1MtC. Emissions from road transport rose by 10%, while CO2 from international flights departing the UK went up by 111%, from 4.3MtC to 9.1MtC. Altogether (taking transport within the UK together with international air and shipping departures), transport accounted for 33% of UK carbon emissions in 2004, up from 27% in 1990.

Performance of the Department for Transport

€ The Department shares a joint Public Service Agreement (PSA) target on reducing CO2 with Defra and the DTI, but this is not working to hold DfT to account. The Government must set a transport-specific target for carbon reductions.

€ The Department has announced some major carbon reduction policies, but of its main three measures within the UK Climate Change Programme, only one (the "Voluntary Agreement package") is currently in operation. The fuel duty escalator is still listed as having the second biggest impact, even though it was abolished in 1999. None of DfT's currently active measures has any impact on aviation.

€ The Department's carbon saving measures are projected to save 6.2MtC annually by 2010. But increased road traffic due to economic growth in the period 1990-2010 is projected to add more CO2 than is saved by all these measures put together.


€ The Government deserves praise for being the first in Europe to introduce vehicle taxes specifically based on CO2 emissions. In particular, reforms to Company Car Tax since 2002 have had a major impact.

€ Reforms to Vehicle Excise Duty (annual car tax) have been much less impressive. Tax differentials between higher and lower carbon cars must be made much wider if they are to drive market transformation. VED paid by the highest emitting petrol-driven 4x4s and luxury saloons in Band G (£210 per year) represents a lower percentage of their sales price, and works out at half the cost per gramme CO2 emitted, than lower emitting diesel hatchbacks in Band C (£110). (See Annex.)

€ Progress in encouraging sales of the lowest carbon cars in Band A (£0) has been microscopic. Sales in 2005 were 467 (approximately 0.02% of the 2.5 million new cars sold that year), down from 481 the year before.

€ The Government should lower or rigorously enforce the current 70mph limit, in order to rapidly and cost-effectively reduce carbon emissions.

€ We welcome the Department's announcement of forthcoming measures to reduce demand for car use, including a doubling of funding for Cycling England. It should build on and accelerate implementation of such measures, and set itself an ambitious target of CO2 savings to be achieved as a result. "Eco-driving" should be incorporated into the driving test.

€ We welcome the Government's policy to ensure that 5% of all road fuels come from renewable biofuels by 2010-11. We also welcome its announcement that biofuels suppliers will have to report on the sustainability of their sources (eg, to ensure these do not involve the clearance of tropical rainforests). The Government should go further and work to establish a rigorous international standard on biofuels production and procurement.

€ DfT should work with the Energy Saving Trust to significantly increase the number of fuelling stations and electrobays for electric cars.


€ Under current Government plans, even under the Government's most optimistic projections every other sector of the economy would have to cut its share of UK emissions, while that of aviation would be assisted to almost quintuple. And this is likely to be a very substantial understatement of the actual figure.

€ Air Passenger Duty should be raised to slow the growth in demand for flights. The Government might also look to levy it per plane rather than per passenger, to incentivise efficiency and to tax air freight for the first time.

€ The Government should work to conclude bilateral agreements with European partners to levy taxes on flights between them. Revenue generated could be put towards investment in high speed rail links, and to accelerating the development and introduction of more energy efficient aircraft designs.

€ We commend the leadership which the Government has shown in raising the inclusion of aviation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme up the agenda. But the evidence suggests that this is still several years away.

€ We welcome the Government's new commitment to offset all its air travel through the new Government Carbon Offsetting Fund. But the Government should make offsetting a compulsory charge on all airline tickets.


€ We support proposals for the construction of new high speed rail links. But it is important that the Department looks to choose a design which is as energy efficient as possible.


€ From 2001 to 2005, bus use increased significantly in London but declined in every other region of England. We welcome the Department's recent announcement of an examination of ways in which to reverse this trend, and look forward to the results. We recommend that the deregulated system of bus services outside London be reformed, to assist in providing services which attract people out of their cars.

For further information on the report, journalists may phone the Committee's press officer, Laura Kibby, on 020 7219 0718.