The Government should aim to cut driving by 20% in the next seven years in order to curb emissions, a think tank has said.
In a report released on Thursday, the Green Alliance think tank said the Government should make driving more expensive and public transport cheaper, or risk seeing 300 billion more miles driven annually by 2050.
Changes would include introducing road pricing, extending a daily £1.50 congestion charge to more cities and increasing parking fees to make driving 5% more expensive.
At the same time, Green Alliance said revenues from higher driving charges should be invested in public transport and infrastructure for walking and cycling, including cutting rail fares by 5%, bus fares by 15% and making both buses and trains more frequent.
Green Alliance’s recommendations are intended to provide a “balanced” set of policies that discourage driving, particularly in urban areas, while making it easier to use alternative modes of transport.
“The Government is emphasising that climate change will be beaten through ‘tangible’ measures, but there is currently a gap in ambition to reduce transport emissions. We’re showing here that a shift to greener travel is completely attainable. Ministers just need to choose a sensible route.”
The report added that although the Government has pledged to make public transport and active travel “the natural first choice for journeys”, there has been “little in the way of policy or a strategy to achieve this” and the Government has cut back planned spending on active travel.
Research by the think tank found that the UK needed to reduce driving by 20-27% by 2030 to remain on course to achieve net zero carbon emissions by the middle of the century.
The Green Alliance added that reducing car use would also save the NHS £2.5 billion per year, give better travel access to the 46% of low income households who are carless, and reduce air pollution.
Projections by the Department for Transport suggest 18.5% more miles being driven by 2050, although wider use of electric vehicles is still expected to see emissions fall.
A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “We have one of the world’s most ambitious plans for green transport, and have provided £2 billion in support for electric vehicles.
“Our approach is not to stop people doing things, but instead enabling them to do the same things differently and more sustainably.”