Key figures in the sector have backed Theresa May’s pledge to eradicate the UK’s net contribution to climate change by 2050 but called for action to ensure that transport genuinely contributes.
Number 10 said a statutory instrument laid on Wednesday to amend the Climate Change Act 2008 ‘puts the UK on the path to become the first major economy to set net zero emissions target in law’.
The outgoing prime minister of the United Kingdom
The prime minister, who is due to step down once the Conservative Party elects a successor, said: ‘As the first country to legislate for long-term climate targets, we can be truly proud of our record in tackling climate change.
‘Now is the time to go further and faster to safeguard the environment for our children. This country led the world in innovation during the Industrial Revolution, and now we must lead the world to a cleaner, greener form of growth.
Nigel Riglar, second vice president of ADEPT, said the council directors’ body fully supports the move, but warned that ‘the devil will be in the detail’.
He said: ‘The target must be reinforced by robust government policies across all sectors – including transport, energy, housing, waste, and the environment – and requires a strong response from business, industry and society as a whole.
‘In meeting the net zero target, as always. We agree with the Committee on Climate Change that it should cover all sectors of the economy, including international aviation and shipping, and should be met through the UK’s own achievements rather than relying on international carbon credits.’
Jonathan Bray, director of the Urban Transport Group, called the move ‘a watershed moment in our efforts to tackle the global climate crisis’.
He said: ‘Investing in the right transport policies is absolutely key to decarbonising our city regions and achieving this net zero goal. The Government’s Spending Review offers an immediate opportunity to set a course for the net zero transition.
‘In particular, we need a shift from stop-start funding for urban transport to long term stable funding which enables us to put the longer-term plans in place which are needed for decarbonisation.’
Mr Bray added: ‘We also need a new funding deal for a bus sector which has been in long term decline. The bus is the main form of public transport in urban areas and getting more people onto buses in cities has to be a key element of any credible net zero plan.’