Decarbonisation report sets out scale of challenge facing Heartland

November 10th 2021

The scale of the transport decarbonisation challenge facing the region and the ways in which it can be addressed are detailed in a new report commissioned by England’s Economic Heartland (EEH).

The baseline report, released to coincide with ‘transport day’ at the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow, marks the completion of the first phase of EEH’s work on a decarbonisation roadmap for the region.

It presents 15 key findings about emissions from surface transport in the Heartland, including:

  • Emissions from surface transport per capita in the Heartland are currently 30% higher than the UK average: EEH emissions account for around 10% of UK emissions
  • Car emissions are responsible for 59% of surface emissions, with HGVs (22%) and vans (16%) also contributing substantially: the contribution from other road vehicles (1%), such as buses and motorbikes, and rail (2%) is minimal
  • The roads under local authority control are responsible for 56% of road emissions (Major Road Network contributing 26% and ‘minor’ roads 30%), while the Strategic Road Network contributes 44%
  • There is a six-fold difference between local authority areas with the highest and lowest per capita transport emissions – and the reasons behind the emissions also varies considerably.

The report, by consultants City Science, uses modelling to show how various policy ‘pathways’ for transport decarbonisation would translate to the Heartland.

Its recommendations to cut emissions in the region include:

  • Developing a two-pronged approach which tackles ‘strategic’ emissions linked to the region’s busiest roads and lorry movements, while identifying ‘place-based’ solutions for more localised emissions
  • Focussing on decarbonising car and road freight through a combination of vehicle electrification and reducing the number of road trips through improved public transport, walking and cycling, and freight consolidation centres
  • Investigating how the accelerated roll-out of electric vehicles in the region can help towards lowering emissions.

In addition to the report, a tool has been developed showing emissions and net zero trajectories broken down by local authority area.

The work provides the foundation for the next phase of the decarbonisation roadmap which will set out in more detail how a mixture of different interventions will contribute to reducing emissions. EEH will also develop toolkits for its local authority partners, allowing them to diagnose the sources of emissions in their areas. It will work with them to understand their preferred local approach to decarbonising the transport system, using this as the basis for a regional decarbonisation plan.

Cllr Richard Wenham, Chair of England’s Economic Heartland, said: “As the UK provides global leadership on climate change at COP26, this report demonstrates how EEH is developing regional, place-based approaches to decarbonising transport.

“It’s crucial to recognise that our places are inherently different – no size fits all. That’s why our work on decarbonisation is encompassing the required strategic interventions, while also working with our local authorities and providing them with the tools to identify targeted solutions for their areas.”