The Scottish Government’s Climate Change Plan consultation closes tomorrow (Tuesday 12th January) and your views are needed.

The consultation is here:

Climate Change Plan Update (Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee)

You can read the updated plan in full here:

Securing a green recovery on a path to net zero: climate change plan 2018-2033 – update

The plan covers much more than transport – but, as that’s the sector that has seen no reduction yet in emissions (up to 2019 anyway), it’s clearly a key issue we must tackle if we are to hit our climate targets.

Graph showing changes in greenhouse gas emissions from different transport modes
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The key headline on transport is the report’s commitment to reduce car kilometres driven by 20% by 2030 – the first time the Scottish government has explicitly committed to a reduction in driving –  so this is pretty big, and very welcome!

In transport we set out ambitious actions which are aligned with our new National Transport Strategy. There is a key focus on technological advances, but equally on measures to encourage mode-shift and significant societal changes. This update commits to reduce car kilometres by 20% by 2030, a truly world-leading aspiration, and we are not aware of any other country that has committed to such an ambitious transformation. Once the pandemic has moved to a phase to allow more certainty regarding future travel demand we will produce a route-map to meet the reduction. Alongside that we will phase out the need for new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030 (bringing this ambition forward from the 2018 plan by 2 years), We will work with public bodies to lead the way by phasing out the need for new petrol and diesel light commercial vehicles by 2025. – Update to the Climate Change Plan.

It’s worth remembering that average emissions per car are going up despite vehicles in general becoming more efficient because we’re buying more SUVs, outweighing any small increases in the number of electric cars. Curbing motoring overall is key – efficiency increases alone won’t save us.

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BUT the devil (as ever) is in the details – and more importantly in the budget – so does the plan have the heft to meet this ambitious commitment?

At the moment, there is no route map for achieving this commitment, so we can’t comment in more detail – but there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of new money, and certainly not for active travel which must be key to reducing shorter car journeys (which are the majority of all trips).

The plan announces £500m for active travel over 5 years – but this is the same money that was announced in the Program for Government and it’s not an increase on the current spending. In other words, we’re attempting a transformational change on business-as-usual money.

There’s also £50m on ‘Active Freeways’ providing longer distance links – again over 5 years. For context this would build about 50km of cycle track – maybe more for rural links assuming landowners play ball (we aren’t sure they will).

£50 million to create Active Freeways, providing a sustainable link between our towns, cities and some of our most beloved national landmarks.- Update to the Climate Change Plan.

There are also lots of warm words about 20 minute cities and land use that are all very welcome but – as Spokes have pointed out in their response here, in other documents, the Scottish Government are pressing ahead with their trunk road building programme. For instance, the NTS delivery plan (published last year) commits us to continuing to expand road capacity, even while we attempt to reduce the amount of driving.

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The Sheriffhall junction improvement alone will cost £116m (in 2018 prices) – that’s more than the entire annual active travel budget on a single roundabout – while dualling the A96 from Inverness to Aberdeen is forecast to cost £3bn.

So – while we welcome the pivot towards alternatives to private motoring, if a “20% reduction in car kilometres by 2030” isn’t going to become the new “10% of journeys by bike by 2020” – the empty vision of the 2010 Cycling Action Plan for Scotland – then please ask the Scottish Government to put its money where its mouth is.

You can read Spokes’ excellent detailed response here if you want some guidelines – Climate Change Plan Update – Spokes Response.

The ever-excellent SPICe have looked in detail at what reducing kms driven might entail here – Back to the Future: Reducing Car Travel in Scotland.

And you can get your response in here.

 

Climate Change Plan consultation closes tomorrow – your views needed!
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