How Low Can Transport Go? Assessing Transport?s Contribution to a Low Carbon Economy in the East of England

How Low Can Transport Go? Assessing Transport?s Contribution to a Low Carbon Economy in the East of England


M Salter, A Summers, East of England Development Agency, UK; H Vergereau, Atkins, UK


The paper describes the methodology used to measure business as usual emissions for the East of England region before exploring three modelled scenarios for carbon emission reduction, their impact on transport and on wider objectives.


Description of the project

The East of England Transport and Carbon Study (TraCS) examined how the transport sector could contribute to reductions in carbon emissions for the East of England region, also considering wider economic impacts. This innovative study for the East of England Development Agency (EEDA) is the first of its kind in the UK and was undertaken by Atkins in collaboration with the University of Aberdeen.

Transport continues to be a significant contributor to global and domestic greenhouse gas emissions. In the UK, domestic transport emissions account for 24% of total CO2 emissions and have increased by 11% between 1990 and 2007. In the East of England, road transport emissions accounted for 32.7% of local CO2 emissions in 2007.

Purpose and objectives

The overall objectives of the Study were:

? to quantify the impact of transport on carbon emissions in the East of England, including consideration of road based transport as well as aviation and shipping;
? to identify how far the transport sector can go in contributing to carbon reduction targets at the regional and national levels; and
? to outline how this could be achieved and the wider economic impacts of doing so.

The Study therefore initially assessed the future transport sector emissions for the region in a business as usual scenario. The Study then assessed three modelled carbon reduction scenarios. The three modelled scenarios include the following:

? Scenario 1 - Implementing the UK Carbon Reduction Strategy for Transport in the region;
? Scenario 2 - The big regional push; and
? Scenario 3 - The national and regional shift.

Study Findings

Under the ?business as usual? scenario the region?s transport emissions are predicted to grow significantly. People are expected to travel further on average each year and this, combined with planned growth in population, housing and economic activity, will result in additional transport demand. This growth will only partially be offset by improvements in vehicle efficiency and will result in overall growth in transport sector CO2 emissions of 33% between 2006 and 2031. 1.1% per annum if averaged over the 25 year period.

In 2031, Scenario 1 is expected to reduce tailpipe emissions by 30% when compared to the business as usual scenario and by almost 9% when compared with 2006 levels. This will be achieved against a strong background growth in housing and economic activity in the region but falls short of national and regional targets. The scenario brings significant benefits to business and consumers through reduced travel costs due to more efficient vehicles and the switch to electric vehicles, although this results in congestion issues and an important loss of revenue from fuel tax.

Scenario 2 ?The big regional push? delivers additional carbon emission savings, especially in the early years. It also continues to bring benefits to business and consumer users, although increases in car parking charges modelled offset some of these benefits. The net reduction in travel costs still results in additional vehicle kilometres.

Scenario 3 ?The national and regional shift? achieves the strongest reduction in carbon emissions through the shift to low carbon vehicles, strong pricing signals and a reduction in speed limits on main roads. This however results in increased travel costs and journey times for road users. Scenario 3 also achieves a 10% reduction in vehicle kilometres which would reduce congestion levels and improve journey time reliability. The increase in fuel tax modelled results in a significant increase in revenue.

Conclusions and Policy Implications

The Study shows that reducing emissions from the transport sector in one of the most dynamic regions in the UK will be challenging and require difficult decisions to be made, as many measures modelled result in trade-offs against other objectives.

The Study shows that significant cuts in transport sector emissions in the East of England can only be achieved through a mix of interventions including:

? vehicle and fuel efficiency;
? behaviour change; and
? pricing signals

The Study demonstrates that the mix of interventions required to deliver significant carbon savings can also contribute to the delivery of wider objectives such as the promotion of more active lifestyles or improved accessibility to employment and education. Some interventions aiming to deliver cuts in emissions can also have negative impacts on the economy however, notably through increased travel costs and potentially journey times, as well as in other areas such as air quality, noise or road safety.

The EEDA TraCS study provides a solid evidence base to inform decision makers and transport professionals responsible for implementing interventions through the development of national, regional and local strategies.


Association for European Transport