Stagecoach calls for an overhaul of transport policy as part of the carbon neutral roadmap

Transport group Stagecoach unveiled a new roadmap to become a carbon neutral company by 2050, while also calling on the UK government to set “conflicting policies” associated with the transport sector and the need to achieve zero net emissions.

Stagecoach has already invested £ 1bn in 7,000 low carbon vehicles over the past 10 years

Stagecoach’s new strategy outlines how the organization will achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, including plans to convert its entire UK bus fleet to zero emissions within the same timeframe.

Having already reduced its emissions by 14% since 2014, the company is now targeting a 70% reduction in emissions from its activity by 2035.

Stagecoach has confirmed its intention to sign up for the global Race to Zero campaign and has also started work on setting science goals to be ratified by the Science Based Targets (SBTi) initiative, which will push the organization towards its goal. to become carbon neutral in 2050.

The company will switch from the clean diesel it currently uses, which contained 95% less pollutants than standard diesel, to zero-carbon technologies such as electric and hydrogen buses. Stagecoach has already invested £ 1 billion in 7,000 low carbon vehicles over the past 10 years.

Additional targets include purchasing 100% renewable energy for its buildings and fleet, aligning energy management systems with ISO50001 by 2027, diverting 98% of waste from the landfill by 2031 and ensuring that women make up at least 40% of company directors and 25% of the total workforce is from ethnic minorities by 2026.

Stagecoach has also committed to creating a new ‘steering group’ for sustainability, and will comply with the Working Group on Climate Related Financial Disclosures, and has set itself the goal of achieving a CDP A rating.

However, the company is also calling on the UK government to help create “radical behavior change and incentives to reward good choices” by promoting public transport, walking and cycling as part of efforts to achieve the net zero by 2050.

Stagecoach Managing Director Martin Griffiths said: “The country will not achieve its ambitions just through big strategies or technological changes. We need radical behavior change and incentives to reward good choices to make net zero a reality. We need to be more honest about the scale of the challenge and the changes we will need to make to our current lifestyle.

“Governments need to get real and stop choosing easy wins. We urgently need practical changes from national and regional governments to deal with conflicting policies and conflicting messages currently being sent to citizens. We must end the ridiculous situation where some clean air zone plans effectively tax bus passengers making a sustainable choice, but do nothing to combat diesel cars which are contributing to the deaths of tens of thousands of people. in our communities every year. “

Encourage public transport

Griffiths notes that the current tax system is based on a “car first” approach that discourages public transport.

Indeed, the IPPR analysis of the Climate Change Committee’s sixth carbon budget advice suggests that efforts to decarbonize road transport through the adoption of electric vehicles could result in an 11% increase in car traffic by now. 2050 and a 28% increase in the number of car owners. The analysis expresses concerns about the resources required to cope with the 28% increase in the number of cars, or the equivalent of around 43.6 million vehicles.

Instead, the IPPR calls for transport to be decarbonized in line with the net zero goal in a way that encourages greater use of public transport, cycling and walking.

While welcoming the sector’s decarbonization efforts, the IPPR notes that only a third of the poorest 10% in terms of household income own a car. As such, an increase in the number of cars through EVs and road extensions could put some at risk. The IPPR calls for a reallocation of road space to take into account cycling, walking and green spaces. The think tank adds that cities and town centers should aim to become car-free by 2030 and that local authorities should target at least 30% tree coverage for new developments that also prevent the increase in traffic or car addiction.

Even under the recently released Transport Decarbonization Plan, details on public transport decarbonization plans are fairly light. The plan highlights the commitments of the £ 5 billion ten-point plan for low-carbon walking, cycling and buses, as well as the national bus strategy. Consultations on the end date of the diesel bus sales strategy are ongoing. The replacements will likely be a mix of electric and hydrogen models.

Organizations representing over 95% of the UK bus industry have pledged to invest only in low emission vehicles from 2025, through the industry body, the Confederation of Transport of passengers (CPT).

The engagement will see Confederation members such as Arriva, Go Ahead, National Express, Stagecoach and First Group, develop plans to purchase only zero-emission vehicles for use in cities and low-emission vehicles for use. in more rural areas of the UK over the next five years.

Such plans, says the CPT, will help ensure that 5.4 billion UK bus trips are made each year by 2030, up from 4.4 billion today, thereby reducing public dependence on public transport. private gasoline and diesel cars.

Last year, TfL revealed that a total of 165 zero-emission buses were in service around London. The capital has since integrated around 70 double-decker electric buses into its fleet. TfL has already ordered 20 hydrogen buses from Wrightbus, which will be deployed throughout the year. London has pledged to procure around 300 zero-emission buses by 2020.

Matt Masse

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