Adrian Hickford, Dr Simon Blainey and Tom Russell from the Universities of Southampton and Oxford, write for Environment Journal about the importance of tackling carbon dioxide emissions in England’s Economic Heartland.
The historically strong economic performance of England’s Economic Heartland region has brought with it increased pressure on transport, digital and other infrastructure networks, which operate close to capacity most of the time.
In addition, the region currently generates transport carbon dioxide emissions which are disproportionately higher than in other UK regions.
The EEH transport network, covering an area stretching from Swindon to Cambridgeshire, and Northamptonshire to Hertfordshire, is currently only served by north-south rail routes to and from London, leaving east-west travel underrepresented.
Tackling these issues and reaching an ambitious target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 is at the heart of EEH’s Draft Transport Strategy (open for consultation until October 6th, 2020).
Achieving net-zero carbon is particularly challenging for the transport sector as it is the largest carbon-emitting sector of the UK economy.
It accounted for 28% of greenhouse gas emissions and 33% of carbon emissions in the UK in 2018 and is still heavily dependent on fossil fuels. The increasing popularity of SUVs coupled with ambivalence over the merits of electric vehicles adds to the challenge.
Meeting the goal of a net-zero carbon transport system by 2050 will require a substantial change in the vehicle fleet towards zero-emission vehicles coupled with technological solutions to improve the efficiency of both individual vehicles and the road and rail networks as a whole, plus reducing the number and nature of motorised trips in the region.