At the annual gathering of the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership last week the winners of a year-long challenge to come up with a plan to tackle carbon emissions from transport were announced.

The Government-funded LowCVP invited think tanks, academic institutions and NGOs to contribute to the challenge looking at a broad spectrum of solutions.

These ranged from financial and legal incentives and ways to get the message through to the public that individual’s emissions mattered to persuading the fuel and motor industries to take voluntary measures to address the problem.

“The Government’s own forecasts show that in the absence of new policy measures, or other initiatives, carbon dioxide emissions from road transport will continue to grow,” said LowCVP’s Neil Wallis.

“It’s clear that effective new policies and other initiatives are needed if this sector is going to make a positive contribution to the mitigation of climate change.”

The eight winning proposals were from:

  • Dr Robert Rabinowitz, ECX Associate Membership, who proposed carbon markets be used to encourage uptake of low carbon vehicles. If manufacturers received tradable carbon credits for building LCVs, he argues, it would offset the additional cost of producing cleaner vehicles and make doing so more attractive.

  • Alex Veitch, Energy Saving Trust suggested companies producing vehicles should be given fixed carbon limits, reduced year on year, forcing industry to produce LCVs. The regulations could also include an element of carbon trading for those who performed better than expected or missed their targets.

  • Dr Jillian Anable, Paige Mitchell and Dr Russell Layberry advocated better enforcement of existing speed limits, or reducing limits in certain areas, could help by improving fuel efficiency.

  • Dr Ben Lane, Dr Stephen Potter and Dr James Warren of Ecolane called for higher taxes on gas guzzlers, and explored the levels of taxation needed to actually influence the choices consumers made in the car showroom.

  • Tony Grayling, Tim Gibbs and Ben Castle of the Institute for Public Policy Research proposed the European Emissions Trading Scheme be extended to include tailpipe emissions. They got around the difficulty of tracking the carbon debits and credits of individuals by arguing such a system could easily and cheaply be implemented by focusing on the small numbers of fuel sellers, rather than motorists themselves.

  • Keith Boxer and Leila O’Sullivan from Manchester: Knowledge Capital suggested the drivers of LCVs be issued with special green parking permits that made subsidised or free parking available in congested urban areas, along similar lines to the exisiting yellow disabled driver badges.

  • Malcolm Fergusson, Ian Skinner and Eleanor Mackay of the Institute for European Environmental Policy suggested using the fuel economy label for new vehicles as the basis for a price-weighting scheme which would see an reduced price for LCVs subsidised by an increased price for the most inefficient.

  • Associate Professor Steven Cousins of Cranfield University said part of the problem was the lack of visibility of CO2, making it easy to ignore, and suggested dash-board gauges such as those for fuel and temperature be built into new vehicles, so drivers could see how their driving habits affected emissions.

    Greg Archer, LowCVP director, told delegates: “We need, urgently, to fully evaluate these and other policy proposals and initiatives to tackle rising road transport CO2 emissions.

    “There have been some positive recent developments – such as the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation – but we need new initiatives.

    “These should encourage both the supply and demand for low carbon vehicles and fuels and tackle the rising vehicle use by encouraging walking, cycling and the use of public transport.”

    Sam Bond

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