Green Alliance has stressed that reducing traffic is key to ensuring the UK hits its 2030 climate target and reducing congestion will also bring wider benefits.
Its latest report, Not going that extra mile, found that transport accounts for nearly a third of UK carbon emissions and cars alone are responsible for 40% of that, making them the single highest emitting sub-sector of the economy. With sales of EVs still a low percentage of total sales.
To be sure the UK can hit its emission reduction targets, analysis published by the think tank recommends that the government should also introduce more measures to help drivers switch to walking, cycling and public transport.
This requires greater national investment in public transport over the next decade, as well as more support for local authorities to improve facilities for active travel and to make neighbourhoods more walkable, Green Alliance said.
The report highlights the additional economic benefits of traffic reduction. Shifting just 1.7% of car journeys to active travel would provide the UK with up to £2.5bn per year in health benefits. And reducing congestion would provide an economic boost, as the cost of congestion was estimated to be almost £8bn in 2018.
Additionally, the London-based think tank’s study analysed fast, medium, and slow electric vehicle sales trajectories in the period up to the UK’s 2030 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars.
Green Alliance recommends the government takes decisive action now to set ambitious ZEV mandate targets but also take steps to manage future traffic levels. This would provide insurance in the event that electric vehicle sales do not follow the fastest uptake trajectory over the next decade.
The study found that, even under the medium sales trajectory, which the government thinks is most likely, the average annual mileage per car would have to fall by around 1,700 miles if emissions targets are to be met.
Helena Bennett, senior policy adviser at Green Alliance, said: “Switching to electric vehicles is the top priority for cutting emissions from cars, but it can’t be the only tool used to make transport greener. Better and more affordable public transport, safe cycle routes and walkable places must be a centrepiece of the government’s transport strategy.”