Achieving a sustainable transport sector in the UK: the effect of UK transport reform and change in population’s travel decisions on the reduction of energy consumption and CO2 emission within the transport sector

Jessica Herring



With the onset of climate change and diminishing global energy supplies, it is a concern that global fuel demand, energy consumption and carbon release are increasing. The transport sector is one of the largest contributors to environmental pressure and degradation, yet it is making a very limited contribution to carbon emission and energy reliance reduction. This paper presents a critique of the UK approach to transport sustainability, focusing mainly on aspects of an unsuccessful transport scheme; Transport 2010, whilst analysing three reform approaches stated in Haan et al (2007) study; reducing demand, energy intensity and carbon intensity to conclude with an improved transport strategy. Reform methods are tested through various models where fuel used, energy consumed and CO2 released are calculated for each mode of available transport for a sample UK short and long distance route. The best reform techniques are deliberated, where a mixture of schemes proved appropriate for typical short distance travel and increased rail use for long distance travel is deemed the most environmentally beneficial. To conclude all three approaches will reduce environmental impact somewhat, however it is a combination of technological alternatives, stringent policy and substantial behavioural change, along with sufficient political and public support, that will result in even the arduous reduction targets being met. Essentially a modal shift is required, away from economic development onto social and environmental sustainability.

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