It quantifies and assesses the contributions that a range of behavioural, fiscal, spatial planning and technological carbon dioxide (CO2) reduction measures can make in assisting the UK to move towards a ‘zero carbon’ transport sector by 2050. Two scenarios for 2050 are compared: a business-as-usual (BAU) scenario (with continuation of present trends and policies) and a maximum impact (MI) scenario in which all feasible interventions for achieving a ‘zero carbon’ UK transport sector are applied. Although road and rail transport could both achieve the zero CO2 emission target by 2050, emissions from aviation and shipping are more problematic.

For the 2050 MI Scenario, the net result from the entire UK transport sector (including international aviation/shipping) is 76 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions compared with the 2050 BAU scenario. This falls short of a zero carbon target for UK transport and is due to the remaining CO2 emissions from aviation (56 per cent reduction) and shipping (49 per cent reduction). To improve the overall CO2 emissions reduction for transport would require more radical interventions or technological innovations for these two sectors than envisaged here. This visioning and backcasting analysis shows that the potential to reduce UK’s transport CO2 emissions is much larger than has hitherto been recognised.

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