Our current pattern of travel and consumption of resources, alongside the scale of planned growth in the region, means a step-change in approach is required to cut emissions.
We will work towards decarbonisation by prioritising investment not just on the basis of value for money, but for its contribution towards net zero, as well as wider sustainability and environmental goals.
Whilst there are universal elements in the approach to decarbonising transport applicable to the country at large (for example, demand reduction and electrification) it is equally important to develop solutions based on a place’s unique characteristics: there cannot be a ‘one-size fits all’ solution to decarbonisation.
Therefore, as sub-national transport body, EEH is developing a range of tools to support a place-based approach and to enable us, and our partners, to focus on delivering the right intervention in the right place.
England's Economic Heartland chairs the decarbonisation group of England's seven sub-national transport bodies.
Five reasons why a step-change is required...
ONE: The Heartland accounts for approximately 10% of the UK’s carbon emissions from surface transport and are 30% higher than the UK average (2005-2020).
TWO: Cars are the greatest contributor to surface transport emissions within the Heartland. They account for 59% of emissions, while HGVs and vans account for 38%.
THREE: There are substantial variations in surface transport emissions, and their sources, across the authorities within EEH. This reinforces the need for localised analysis and targets.
FOUR: Recent rates of decarbonisation prior to the COVID-19 pandemic will be insufficient to reach most decarbonisation targets. Continuing the 2017 to 2019 trend means transport would only be approximately 50% decarbonised by 2050.
FIVE: The decarbonisation brought about during COVID-19 indicates the scale of change needed. The level in emissions reduction brought about by the pandemic is similar to the change expected by approximately 2025 under the Climate Change Committee's pathway.
Video: Meet England's Economic Heartland's decarbonisation manager
What we're doing
Net zero transport and electric vehicles - additional DfT funding (ongoing)
The DfT has confirmed additional in-year funding for STBs for work on four specific areas, including decarbonisation and electric vehicle infrastructure. Work is being progressed jointly with neighbouring STBs.
A joint submission regarding decarbonisation was developed by EEH and Midlands Connect on behalf of all seven sub-national transport bodies. This will examine how policies and plans will likely have differing scales of impact depending on the nature of the location where they are applied.
A further joint submission, led by EEH with Transport for the South East and Transport East, will build on the toolkit. The project will involve diagnosis of the EEH region, including the application of the relevant typologies to our places alongside the development of a bespoke report for each transport authority with a suggested suite of high-level interventions to meet the chosen pathway(s) for each authority area.
For electric vehicles, Transport East (as lead STB) and England’s Economic Heartland will undertake an ‘electric vehicle sprint’, working with local authorities and organisations including from the private sector, National Grid and the broader energy sector, to better understand and coordinate the delivery of electric vehicle charging infrastructure. The work will bring together partners to understand their role and contribution to the regions’ transition to net zero and identify how we can collectively accelerate electric vehicle uptake.
It is likely that the projects' scopes will evolve further once engagement with DfT and wider partners has taken place.
Decarbonisation Roadmap (work ongoing)
We are developing a standalone ‘roadmap’ setting out a realistic pathway to decarbonising the transport ecosystem in our region, including a trajectory and non-binding carbon budgets/targets for transport.
The initial stage focuses on translating the Climate Change Committee’s (CCC’s) Sixth Carbon Budget, transport decarbonisation plan and Tyndall Centre pathways into a regionally specific decarbonisation roadmap. EEH has commissioned City Science to develop the first package of the decarbonisation roadmap for the Heartland.
The approach will work with established UK pathways to decarbonisation, particularly the CCC’s ‘surface transport pathway’. The first phase of the roadmap, setting out the emissions baseline in the region, was published during COP26 in November 2021.
Once completed EEH will look to take the outputs and commission the second work package, translating the baseline and nationally adopted trajectories into a placed based approach to transport decarbonisation. This will support a deeper understanding the challenges and opportunities that are emerging in a way that’s most relevant and applicable to their localities.
Pathways to Decarbonisation (2020)
In 2020 England's Economic Heartland commissioned Oxford and Southampton universities to use advanced modelling to show how the region could work towards a net zero carbon transport system.
The study (Pathways to Decarbonisation) assumed a transition to 100% zero-emissions cars, light goods vehicles (LGVs), heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) and public service vehicles (PSVs, for example buses and coaches) by 2050. In addition, the work allowed EEH to identify the following pathways to decarbonisation:
i) A highly connected future, one that enables our transport system to provide better transport information to the user, better management of the transport network, and the rapid deployment of connected and autonomous vehicles. This pathway will build on a step change in the provision of digital access and services to the home – allowing for a significant increase in home working and a significant change in travel patterns
ii) A policy-led behavioural shift by which decision makers at all levels agree to deploy policy levers specifically designed to reduce the number of car trips. This will require the application of measures designed to reduce the need to travel. In parallel, it requires a commitment to ensure local communities have real choice in the way they travel – with bus, rail and active travel options being attractive and viable alternatives to the private car.
By primarily reducing the need to travel, focusing on modal shift and supporting the deployment of mass rapid transit and active travel, it highlights an affordable alternative to traditional, large-scale road projects that take many years to plan, fund and deliver.
Consultation responses and correspondence
Board/ Forum papers
Strategic Transport Leadership Board September 2021: Item 5 Transport Decarbonisation 240921