Thank you to everyone who has contacted me about the role of transport in a green recovery.
While we continue to face the current pandemic, we cannot forget that we are still in a climate emergency and that green, efficient transport must be the future. Transport is now the largest contributing sector to UK emissions.
I therefore strongly believe that work on a comprehensive transport plan should have started much sooner and I am increasingly concerned that the pace of change is too slow to ensure we do not see a return to previous travel habits. For example, the Transport Decarbonisation Plan and the National Bus Strategy, both of which the Government were due to publish this year, are now not expected until 2021.
Earlier this year, the Government announced £2 billion of investment in cycling and walking. However, this funding is for the whole of this Parliamentary term, and I am aware that evidence suggests that significant additional funding will be needed to change to the way we travel. According to the Government’s own research, this funding is only a third of the minimum that will be required over the next five years to reach the existing target of doubling cycling and increasing walking by 2025.
The Government recently published its Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, which includes commitments on green public transport, cycling and walking. However, I do not believe the plan is anywhere near ambitious enough and it does not properly tackle the climate emergency. We must increase our ambitions for the redesigning of urban spaces and investment in bus and rail, including enabling more cities, towns and rural areas to develop local mobility plans.
On road funding, we need to ensure that any new investment is compatible with our legal obligation to cut carbon emissions in line with the Paris Climate Agreement.
I firmly believe that we must use this moment of societal upheaval to change our mindset and to transition to greener forms of living, particularly greener forms of travel.