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(Not) driving for change

4 April, 2020

Even if you’ve been busy keeping up with the news, you’d be forgiven for missing an announcement this week from the Department for Transport. 

The Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, announced the Transport Decarbonisation Plan (unsurprisingly with little fanfare), initiating the process of setting out the policies and plans needed to tackle transport emissions to create a net zero transport system. It shows signs of being the bold shift needed for a net zero transport system, with its first point being to ‘make public transport and active travel the natural first choice for daily activities’. This is an important statement of intent from government to shift away from the much-venerated car, towards healthier and sustainable transport.

It may also turn out to be great timing. With transport now heavily reduced, there is an opportunity to think about our usual habits and how to change them for the better (and repairing your bike’s flat tyre or setting up a car-share system with a neighbour, while you’re at it). And although this doesn’t mean that the transport system will be fully revamped by the time we emerge from the lockdown, we have a better insight into how this could work – how much work-related travel is necessary and how flexible working can be done.

Particularly with COP26 delayed until next year, the UK Government has a mounting challenge to demonstrate climate leadership, but this could be a powerful opportunity. It’s a long road ahead, but we look forward to seeing this bold plan in action.

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