DOWNLOAD: New Analysis Report & Issues Briefing on the transport decarbonisation challenge facing a next Labour government

Anthony Rae 19th May 2024: Will Labour fail its transport decarbonisation test?  is the subject of new publications prepared on behalf of the Environmental Transport Organisations (ETOs) grouping, a coming together of transport campaigners from across the North of England. There’s a short Issues Briefing allowing an easy review of the topic, and a longer Analysis Report (Executive Summary also available, and a separate document with just the Endnotes) providing a more detailed assessment and data sources. See our companion article for the various ways to explore the topic.

Despite the reference to Labour in the title the publications have no political intent; the ETOs have no party affiliation. Their motivation was a different one: a concern above all for transport decarbonisation to be accelerated. Previously, in their engagement around Transport for the North’s  initial strategic transport plan, the ETOs eventually secured and inclusion it of a Climate Change Act-compatible decarbonisation commitment, paving the way for TfN’s ground-breaking Decarbonisation Strategy in 2021.

Noting that 4 out of 5 MPs in the Labour shadow ministerial transport team represent northern constituencies the ETOs decided that, as we approach a general election in 2024 and with the prospect of a new government, it would like to make another contribution to regional and national policy on the critical issue of reducing transport’s carbon emissions: hence these publications.

Their starting point is that, so far, Labour has not disclosed  how it intends to set policy for the modes responsible for 89% of transport emissions: roads (66%) and aviation (23%). The reason why these two modes take up such a large emissions share is, it’s argued, because the underlying DfT policy frameworks have failed (see our companion articles for roads and aviation) and even encourage emissions to grow or insufficiently reduce. So it’s those policy frameworks that will need to be revised by a next Labour government.

Will Labour do this; is it even considering it? We don’t know. The suggestion appears to be that improving public transport – with changes to the ownership and control over rail and bus services – will somehow be sufficient to deliver the necessary amount of decarbonisation. But that’s not the case.

Party positions around transport are likely to continue to evolve as the election approaches – although the issues typically exploited as a ‘political football’ – so the report will be updated in the coming months, and there’ll be continuing commentary on this website.