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Climate targets ‘off track’


06 July 2018

The UK is not on course to achieve its fourth (2023-2027) or fifth (2028-2032) carbon budgets and transport is a major source of the difficulty, according to the Committee on Climate Change.

With the closure of many coal-fired power stations, the transport sector is now the UK’s largest source of carbon dioxide emissions, accounting for 28 per cent (126 million tonnes of CO2equivalent) of UK greenhouse gas emissions in 2017. 

The Committee’s annual report to Parliament reports that, for the first time since records began in 2000, the average carbon dioxide emissions of new car sales actually rose (by 0.8 per cent) in 2017. 

“This deterioration is mainly due to a move towards larger vehicles,” says the Committee.  “Sports Utility Vehicles now represent 18.1 per cent of new car sales, compared to 7.7 per cent in 2010.”

Overall emissions from domestic transport were flat in 2017 after rising for three consecutive years from 2014 to 2016. 

“Demand for travel continues to grow across cars and vans, whereas efficiency improvements have slowed,” says the Committee. “This sector [transport] is now significantly off-track from the cost-effective path in the Committee’s fifth carbon budget assessment.”

Sales of electric vehicles (EVs) increased in 2017 to 1.9 per cent of new cars. The Committee says: demand for electric vehicles outstrips manufacturer supply leading to long wait times for orders, “and it is likely that sales are suppressed as a result”. 

The committee urges the DfT to publish its delayed Road to Zero strategy for cutting CO2 emissions.  

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