Green Mobility Policy Briefing 26th of August 2022

Covered in this week’s Green Mobility Policy Briefing: French transport minister calls for private jet regulation, UK government introduces measures to improve air quality; UK government £130m in bus funding, pledges £3bn by 2035; and California to end sales of internal combustion-only cars by 2035. 

French Minister for Transport calls for private aviation regulation. Adding to the existing debate on mitigating climate change and saving energy in France, the Minister for Transport Clément Beaune has called for restrictions and regulations to be placed upon flights made by private jets. A report by NGO Transport and Energy (T&E) shows that in 2019 one tenth of all flights leaving France were by private jet, and half travelled less than 500km. Private aviation disproportionately impacts the environment, and in one hour a flight can emit two tonnes of CO2, compared to the average person in the EU emitting 8.2 tCO2e in one year. Despite criticisms on the French Government on their current climate change legislation, environmentalists in France demand a complete ban on private jet usage.  Echoing this position, the largest opposition bloc in the French National Assembly, consisting of Green and left-wing politicians, have called for an outright ban on private jet use, and are planning to propose a draft law in autumn. However, Beaune wants to raise the issue at an EU transport ministers’ meeting in October and has said it would be more effective to have an EU-wide system of carbon taxation or regulation of private jet flights, rather than creating a purely French solution – Jessica Atkinson  

The UK government has improved mechanisms to tackle air quality, a press release on 18th August has revealed. The department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has tightened existing rules on air quality under the Environment Act 2021 to strengthen the powers of local government to deliver “effective action” on the issue. Officials say the rules outlined in the Local Air Quality Management Policy Guidance makes cooperation between National Highways and local councils a “statutory requirement”. The two bodies will be required to “include a timeline of clear actions” in their regular local Air Quality Action Plans to ensure the progress of objectives. If plans are failing the new process requires a declaration of an ‘Air Quality Management Area’ within 12 months, an ‘Air Quality Production Plan’ within 18 months and a warning alert system to increase local council compliance. Officials say that this process will help provide a “more consistent approach” for air quality management policy than had been seen previously. The measures follow the release of ground-breaking research by a government research group that has found a correlation between air pollution and dementia and data from the World Health Organisation that 7 million deaths are caused annually by ailments related to air pollution. Environment minister Steve Double commented the measures provide a “strengthened framework for local councils to meet their air quality objectives”. As the UK awaits a new Prime Minister on the 5th September, the candidates’ reluctant climate agenda suggests the new government is unlikely to improve on air quality measures for some time. – Ollie Jenkins 

UK Government announces £130 million in funding for over 160 bus operators across England, pledging a further £3 billion for bus services by 2025. Following almost £2 billion in government funding since the start of the pandemic, bus operators in England are set to receive up to £130 million over a period of six months from August 2022 to March 2023, according to the Department for Transport. This measure aims to ensure that vital bus services and routes remain viable for the public and offset the implications from the rising cost of living. Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps has said: “It’s more important than ever we save these bus routes for the millions who rely on them for work, school and shopping.”. This announcement comes at a time where public transport in the UK is experiencing rising pressure to operate, and according to this report the bus industry has been in long term decline with passenger journeys falling 11.9% outside of London. Funding from councils and central government are integral to improving the infrastructure and traffic powers needed to ensure viable bus services. In addition to this, the UK government is planning to invest £3 billion into bus services by 2025, by focusing on improving fares, service, and infrastructure, and zero emission buses.- Jessica Atkinson 

California to end sales of internal combustion-only cars by 2035. Following California Governor Gavin Newsom’s initial announcement in 2020 to phase out gasoline-powered cars in the state by 2035, the California Air Resources Board recently voted to approve setting yearly rising zero-emission vehicle rules from 2026. The rules aim to ensure that 35% of new cars sold be plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV), electric vehicles (EVs) or hydrogen fuel cell by 2026, rising to 68% by 2030 and 100% by 2035. This target of reducing internal combustion-only cars by 2035 is also present in the European Union (EU) as the European Parliament approved revisions in June 2022 to existing vehicle CO2 emissions legislation, accelerating targets for car manufacturers to reduce their emission averages to 100% by 2035. The issue of providing adequate charging infrastructure remains in both cases, with Newsom stating that collaboration between state agencies and the private sector is integral to accelerate deployment of affordable fuelling and charging options.- Jessica Atkinson