The Scottish Government are consulting on their new National Transport Strategy. This will set the vision for the next twenty years of transport, so it’s essential that it is built on the need to tackle climate change and air pollution.

In April, the First Minister declared a Climate Emergency. Since then, official figures show that transport is Scotland’s biggest source of climate emissions, and with emissions from this sector hardly changing since way back in 1990.

So we know we need huge changes in our transport system – significant reductions in fossil fuel private car use, a much more comprehensive and affordable public transport network, and space for walking and cycling. It is hard to see how this Strategy can deliver that necessary transformation.

Limiting fossil fuelled cars

All Government departments need to wake up to the Climate Emergency. They must realise that it means not just supporting the good things – like encouraging people to cycle more – but preventing polluting activities, like putting limits on fossil-fuel car use.

If we carry on current trajectories, the number of car trips in Scotland could “increase from 1,890 million in 2017 to 2,280 million in 2037, an increase in excess of 20%”. The strategy also explains that goods vehicles are expected to increase by 40% over the same period. We are heading in the wrong direction.

It’s disheartening to see that “Reduce the transport sector’s emissions to support our national objectives on air quality and climate change” is one policy amongst scores of others, rather than underpinning and defining the entire strategy. This falls far short of what we need.

Have your say

I’d really encourage you to take a look through the strategy. As a shortcut, I’d recommend Pages 11+12 for some interesting stats, Page 40 for car use trends, Page 49 – Page 51 for the policy recommendations.

It is also interesting to see, on Page 60, the Government will start a conversation on managing traffic demand as part of the Big Climate Conversation. You can find an event near you by going here.

If you have the time, please respond to the consultation. Make it clear to the Scottish Government that reducing climate emissions from transport needs to be the ultimate priority and everything else needs to support this aim.

If you have any questions, comments, or ideas, email me gthomson [at] foe.scot, or say hello on twitter @GavinThomson.