Net Zero Targets and Decarbonising Transport — [Caroline Nokes in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:51 am on 4th February 2020.

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Photo of George Freeman George Freeman Minister of State (Department for Transport) 10:51 am, 4th February 2020

I will not, just because I am very short of time to respond to the debate.

Delivering net zero will require genuine transformation of our economy and society, including our homes, transport systems and businesses. Although challenging, it offers tremendous social and economic opportunity, but we will have to go further and faster to build on our track record, with transport front and centre.

I shall list briefly the things that we have done. This is a very significant demonstration of leadership. Our £1.5 billion ultra low emission vehicle programme is the envy of the world. We have just announced the £400 million charging infrastructure fund, which will see thousands more electric vehicle charge points installed across the UK, both superfast chargers at motorway service stations and domestic chargers. The first £70 million of that will create another 3,000 rapid charge points. With the private sector, we are on track to deliver £1 billion for charging infrastructure. I am genuinely delighted that the Prime Minister has this morning announced the Government’s intention to bring forward the ban on petrol, diesel and hybrid cars and vans to 2035, in line with the Committee on Climate Change’s advice.

On shipping, we have the clean maritime plan. On rail, we have set the ambition to remove all diesel-only trains from the network. On aviation, we have helped to lead the world in setting up that first and seminal international agreement for emissions reduction, and here in the UK we are investing £1.5 billion in future aviation technology. Yesterday, I visited the E-Fan X, a partnership between Rolls-Royce and Airbus at Cranfield pioneering the first electric plane.

We will have to invest in science and technology longer term, as well as modal shift for healthier and happier places short term, and to that end I will shortly be announcing with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State our first ever transport decarbonisation plan. That will set out for the first time an approach for each mode—road, rail, shipping and aviation—and an approach by place. We want to look at the worst motorway junctions and railway stations, and we want to use digital tools to help to track standard emissions per passenger kilometre. And there will be a plan for science and R&D investment longer term, including for important technologies in areas such as hydrogen and carbon capture and storage—there is a whole range of technologies that can help us to drive both the modal shift and the emissions reduction.

This is about harnessing the power of our science and innovation and our digital economy to help lead the world in how to empower today’s travellers, passengers, drivers and households to make green choices. Imagine the power of a green Citymapper that will allow people to choose low-emission journeys and then reward them. That is very powerful and something that we need to look at.

Crucially, this will not all be done by top-down diktat from central Government; it will require—this is one reason why I welcome it—a bold new deal of devolution with towns and cities, and so I am in the process of working round all the Mayors of combined authorities.

We are short of time. Let me close by saying that if we are to achieve this objective, which we are determined to do, it will require not just science and not just devolution for modal shift; it will require, I suggest, a pan-Government approach on a par with that which we took in the build-up to the Olympics—a genuine decarbonisation olympiad, which will need to happen on a cross-party basis and inspire the next generation with the belief that we can do it.

Perhaps, with their permission, I can write to the hon. Members who raised specific questions with the detailed answers that I have written out but have no time to read out now.

Question put and agreed to.


That this House
has considered net zero targets and decarbonising transport.