A Transport Decarbonisation Strategy for the North of England – outlining the ambitious target of near-zero carbon emissions from surface transport by 2045 – has been launched today by Transport for the North (TfN).
It is the first time a regional strategy of this type has been produced, bringing together the region’s leaders to speak out with one voice on the climate emergency and how the transport sector must act to address the challenge.
It highlights the ambitions of the North of England in tackling carbon emissions, with the region aiming to go beyond national policy and targets, with a clear plan for making progress as quickly as possible.
It also demonstrates the importance achieving a fair transition for all of the North’s communities – maximising clean growth opportunities; the need to ensure decarbonisation is at the heart of transport-related policy and investment decisions; and how action at a regional level can help the North achieve its collective ambitions.
The strategy was approved by the TfN Board on 24 November, where Board Members – the region’s political and business leaders – welcomed the detail and depth of work, highlighting important elements such as the need for modal shift, the transition to alternative fuels and delivery of adequate charging infrastructure, and the decarbonisation of freight, and noted the effectiveness of collaborative working on a challenge such as decarbonising transport.
Four priority activities have been agreed following the consultation on the strategy over summer. These cover rail electrification; improving public transport, including Northern Powerhouse Rail; developing a Zero Emission Vehicle charging infrastructure framework; and developing a regional route map for transport decarbonisation.
The wider action plan within the strategy covers:
- encouraging modal shift towards more sustainable ways of travelling, such as public transport and active travel
- zero emission vehicles, including cars, HGVs and buses, with a comprehensive network of charging facilities to support their wider use
- the decarbonisation of the rail network through electrification
- the use of hydrogen and alternative fuel vehicles
- opportunities for decarbonisation in the freight industry
- reducing the embodied carbon within new transport infrastructure development.
The strategy also utilises TfN’s four Future Travel Scenarios to ensure it is future-proofed for a diverse range of possible scenarios.
Martin Tugwell, Chief Executive at Transport for the North, said: “Tackling the climate emergency is a critical challenge, and the North of England has an important role to play. As outlined in our Transport Decarbonisation Strategy and highlighted by our Members, we believe our region can, and must, take clear and comprehensive action to decarbonise surface transport over the coming years.
“Our regional strategy shows how the North of England can lead the UK in decarbonising our transport system, and we will now take forward those activities at pace and ensure decarbonisation goals underpin all our work. This will embed sustainability within all transport projects and improvements, helping us build a greener North of England.
“Through this regional strategy we demonstrate the real power of TfN’s Members speaking with one voice and putting action behind our words. Together we have set ourselves an ambitious challenge, and it is one we are all fully behind and will work towards as a region with passion and determination.”
Cllr Louise Gittins, Interim Chair of Transport for the North and Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council, said: “I am delighted to be launching this Decarbonisation Strategy which sets out the vision for a fundamental re-thinking of Transport throughout the North, to set us on a path to carbon neutrality by 2045.
“Our vision is to see a system where every person and business has access to high quality, accessible and affordable zero carbon transport. Transport plays a huge role in our daily lives, and we are committed to creating a system that provides high quality mobility solutions and addresses long-standing barriers to accessibility.
“Transport for the North will be advocating on behalf of the region, and working with Government to provide strategic leadership and support for the delivery of an integrated and sustainable transport system. This Decarbonisation Strategy sets out goals and the opportunities which will be progressed in order to achieve those goals over the lifetime of the strategy.
“Recent severe weather events remind us of the critical importance of not only decarbonising transport, but also adapting to the effects to ensure we create resilient systems that are fit for the future. Above all, they remind us of the effects on people whose lives are affected when infrastructure and transport options are not resilient, this underlines the importance of maximising our efforts in both reducing emissions and adapting to climate change, and I am pleased that this strategy equips us with the framework to do so.”
Image: courtesy TfN