Transport decarbonisation plan is ‘genuinely high ambition’ says Transport Secretary Shapps

FULL STORY & VIDEO plus ALL DOWNLOADS HERE: The Government’s Transport Decarbonisation Plan, published today, is “genuinely high ambition – technically and feasibility – for all areas of transport and notes that decarbonisation will rely, in part, on future transport technology, coupled with the necessary behavioural and societal change,” says Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

The plan sets out a world-leading pledge to consult on the end of the sale of all new, non-zero emission road vehicles by 2040 at the latest.

The Government says it is the “world’s first ‘greenprint’ to decarbonise all modes of domestic transport by 2050″ to cut emissions from our seas and skies, roads and railways, setting out a credible pathway for the whole transport sector to reach net zero by 2050.”

Download the plan here – see end of story for all downloads:

This suite of announcements marks a major leap forward by the Government in delivering ambitions to decarbonise transport and the UK is the first country in the world to do this, “taking a firm leadership position as we host COP26 (November 1-12) later this year,” says Mr Shapps.

“We must deliver a step change in the breadth and scale of our ambition to reduce transport’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to reach net zero,” he adds.

As expected, while the initial response (see story here) from parts of the industry has been positive, there are also concerns, particularly around the lack of rail electrification and road infrastructure.

Cleaner transport will create and support highly skilled jobs, with the production of zero emission road vehicles alone having the potential to support tens of thousands of jobs worth up to £9.7 billion GVA in 2050. This will also ensure the air we breathe is cleaner in our communities and reduce time spent in traffic, adds Mr Shapps.

As part of this vision, the government is today announcing its intention to phase out the sale of new diesel and petrol heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) by 2040, subject to consultation – combined with the 2035 phase out date for polluting cars and vans.

The consultation [download at the end of this news story] proposes a 2035 phase out date for vehicles weighing from 3.5 to 26 tonnes and 2040 for vehicles weighing more than 26 tonnes – or earlier if a faster transition seems feasible.

With billions of pounds in investment already pledged including £2 billion in cycling and walking and £2.8 billion to support industry and motorists to make the switch to cleaner vehicles, the Transport decarbonisation plan also sets out how the government will improve public transport and increase support for active travel to make them the natural first choice for all who can take them – creating a net zero rail network by 2050, ensuring net zero domestic aviation emissions by 2040 and leading the transition to green shipping.

The government is also today publishing a 2035 delivery plan [download at the end of this news story], which brings together all of the measures for decarbonising cars and vans, from across government, into a single document. It outlines the key timelines, milestones and how progress towards the commitment to deliver mass ownership of zero emission cars and vans will be monitored.

This follows recent investments from car manufacturer Nissan to produce its new-generation electric vehicle in Sunderland, alongside Envision’s new Gigafactory, as well as Stellantis’s investment in Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port manufacturing plant to transform the site for a new era in electric vehicle manufacturing.

Long time in the making to get it right

Today’s plan is the conclusion of a process that started more than two years ago. In March 2020 the Government published its report Decarbonising Transport: Setting the Challenge in which it committed to bring together a transport decarbonisation plan to deliver transport’s contribution to carbon budgets and net zero across all forms of transport.

The much-delayed plan, originally due to be published in autumn 2020, sets out a range of other commitments including:

  • Linking local infrastructure funding to solutions that cut emissions
  • Aligning investment to the Government’s net zero programme
  • Improving public transport
  • Increasing support for active travel so mass transit and cycling and walking ‘play a bigger role than ever’
  • A net zero rail network by 2050
  • Net zero domestic aviation emissions by 2040
  • Leading the transition to green shipping

As a major step towards the 2040 goal, alongside the plan the government has published a consultation on phasing out the sale of all new non-zero emission heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) by 2040. Says Mr Shapps: “This is demonstrating our commitment to tackle the second largest source of domestic transport carbon emissions and furthering our ambition to decarbonise UK roads.”

“The plan is ambitious, consumer friendly and world leading. It will create economic growth, new industries and jobs and help us Build Back Better and Greener”

Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps

This comes with a green paper [download at the end of this news story], which will set out options for a new regulatory framework requiring vehicle manufacturers to improve the efficiency of new road vehicles. “This will allow us to meet our phase out ambitions whilst creating new jobs for the automotive sector and delivering certainty to drivers,” adds Mr Shapps.

To underpin its petrol and diesel phase out dates and help achieve them, the Government is also publishing a 2035 delivery plan. This brings together all of its committed funding streams and measures for decarbonising cars and vans, from across government, into a single document.

It outlines the key timelines, milestones and how the Government will monitor progress towards its commitment to deliver mass ownership of zero emission cars and vans.

Leading by example, the decarbonisation plan will increase the level of ambition for the whole central government fleet, moving the target date for the 40,000-vehicle fleet to be fully zero emission forward to 2027.

“The plan is ambitious, consumer friendly and world leading. It will create economic growth, new industries and jobs and help us Build Back Better and Greener,” says Mr Shapps.

“We must deliver a step change in the breadth and scale of our ambition to reduce transport’s greenhouse gas emissions to reach net zero”

Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps

Today the Government is also publishing its response to the electric vehicle smart charging consultation, which commits to legislation later this year to ensure that all private EV chargepoints meet smart charging standards.

The transition to EVs is central to government’s net zero commitment but will also increase demand on the electricity system. Smart charging can help mitigate these impacts.

This legislation will play an important role in driving the uptake of smart technology, which can save consumers money on their energy bills.

Aviation and maritime

Developing a deliverable plan for these two sectors, especially within the context of international emissions, are understood to have been the main reasons for the delay to the Plan’s publication.

Says Mr Shapps: “We intend to tackle the challenges of decarbonising the aviation and maritime sectors head on. We are launching a Jet Zero consultation today that commits the aviation sector to a net zero emissions target by 2050 and sets out our approach and principles to achieve this. [download at the end of this news story]

“The consultation focuses on the rapid development of technologies in a way that maintains the benefits of air travel and maximises the opportunities that decarbonisation can bring for the UK.

“The decarbonisation plan sets out further commitments for our maritime sector, establishing our ‘course to zero’, consulting on how we get more ships plugging in to our decarbonised grid, exploring how we phase out emissions from vessels, and considering how we take advantage of the UK’s strengths in the maritime sector to support growth in green technology and shipbuilding.


The clear route to zero-emission trains is a significant increase in electrification, which the Government has so far declined to do, due to botched delivery of the Great Western Main Line electrification which ran late and over budget due to failures in specification.

Instead it has previously nailed its colours to ‘bi-mode’ trains – electric trains that also have diesel engines so they can run off the electric network.

The government is now also publishing its rail environment policy statement [download at the end of this news story], which will “set the direction for the rail industry on environment issues and inform the forthcoming sustainable rail strategy,” says Mr Shapps.

“The document will look at traction decarbonisation, air quality, decarbonising the rail estate and a range of other environmental-related issues on the railway, including biodiversity and waste.”

Exciting the public

“Transport decarbonisation is a dull way of describing something much more exciting and far-reaching,” says Mr Shapps introducing the Government’s plan.

“Because transport is not just how you get around. It is something that fundamentally shapes our towns, our cities, our countryside, our living standards, our health, and our whole quality of life.

“The Transport decarbonisation plan, is not about stopping people doing things: it’s about doing the same things differently.

“We will still fly on holiday, but in more efficient aircraft, using sustainable fuel. We will still drive on improved roads, but increasingly in zero emission cars. We will still have new development, but it won’t force us into high-carbon lifestyles.”

REACTION – What the industry thinks – story here


You will receive our regular news digest – typically weekly. We are serious about GDPR and we promise to take care of your data and will never sell it or pass it on.

Your Privacy

We and our partners use technologies, such as cookies, and process personal data, such as IP addresses and cookie identifiers, to personalise ads and content based on your interests, measure the performance of ads and content, and derive insights about the audiences who saw ads and content. Click below to consent to the use of this technology and the processing of your personal data for these purposes. View our privacy policy.