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Energy Saving Trust: transport sector's role in tackling climate emergency
Energy Saving Trust: transport sector's role in tackling climate emergency

Energy Saving Trust: transport sector’s role in tackling climate emergency

The climate emergency is a major threat to humanity and is rightly being addressed.

The UK government has committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, but all parts of society must play a part if energy consumption is to be reduced.

Transport is key to this, and the Energy Saving Trust – is a trusted organisation helping people and businesses save energy each day.

Transport Britain spoke to Tim Anderson, Senior Programme Manager of the Energy Saving Trust’s Transport team, and Mike Thornton, Group Director of Operations.

They spoke about the challenges of reducing energy and how local authorities can assist transport organisations in their regions.

The full interview is in issue 10 of Transport Britain. 

How have we got to this point of climate emergency?

Essentially through reluctance to adapt in time. It is human nature to put off the what doesn’t have to be done today if it involves change and unfortunately we have now used up all the time we had for gradual change and find ourselves in a situation where we must act and very urgently. This doesn’t mean no transport and no travel, but it does mean that the sector is entering a period of rapid and unprecedented change. The good news is that done right, this can result in better, transport systems and infrastructure and an improved quality of life for all of us.

The last government committed to becoming net-zero by 2050. How realistic is this?

It is realistic and possible and indeed Scotland has committed to an even faster timeline – net-zero by 2045. It will, however, require sustained political will and attention. The all-consuming Brexit issue means that right now many of the important issues facing government are being overlooked, including how we as a country respond to the climate emergency and deliver net zero. The good news is that net zero also provides opportunities for the UK economy and so government can achieve prosperity whilst also reaching net zero through innovation and investment.

EST has committed to working with our government partners to deliver net-zero and we will work tirelessly to achieve this goal.

What advice have you given leading stakeholders in the industry?

  • EST has been supporting both DfT and the Scottish Government to develop programmes that tackle the urgent need for action.
  • EST is working with local authorities and city regions in a range of areas to share best practice, accelerate uptake of low carbon transport locally and respond to the dual challenges of climate change and poor air quality.
  • EST is the foremost provider of fleet advice to organisations running vehicles.

What challenges do you feel lie ahead for the sector?

Transport is a huge sector and there is great innovation taking place that points to a better, greener future. As always, certainty is a worry for many companies looking to invest in this future and the transport sector needs long term policy that locks in government commitment. In this context, the net zero target is a great step to setting the goal and sets us on a trajectory to a low carbon future for the transport sector but it will need to be followed up with consistent long-term policies to take us there.

More people want to travel than ever. Expecting people to stay at home is not an option so we need to deal with the issue of personal and corporate mobility without creating new problems. This means changes in the vehicles that people purchase and the travel options they select. The only way to do this is to change hearts and minds, and this is a key challenge and one that EST is well placed to lead, as we have more than 20 years’ experience and insight in supporting behaviour change in the sustainable energy sector.

Check issue 10 of Transport Britain for the full interview.

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