UK Conservatives Set Their Sights on Net Zero Flight as Germany Introduces Unlimited Train Travel for €49 Per Month: GMPB

Covered in this week’s Green Mobility Policy Brief: We can fly to net zero”, says new aviation manifesto unveiled by green Tories; Germany to introduce unlimited train travel for £1.40 a day. Modal shift to cleaner transport fails to materialise; Taxing shipping pollution would raise nearly £2bn a year for the UK Government. 

“We can fly to net zero”, says new aviation manifesto unveiled by green Tories –  The Conservative Environment Network released a new manifesto called ‘Taking Flight: A policy route to achieving just Zero’, signed by 32 Conservatives. The manifesto asks the government to start a Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme for aviation. Currently, CfD schemes apply to the electricity market, and incentivise green energy investments by protecting investors from price volatility. This would enable the growth of the UK’s sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) industry by generating 6,500 jobs and cutting 3.6 million tonnes of carbon a year by 2035. Monetary support is needed for British factories if they are to compete against the investment and incentives provided for U.S and EU SAF companies. CfD is also needed as UK SAF is only on track to meet half the government’s sustainable aviation targets. The manifesto would allow investors to confidently invest into the sector by guaranteeing a fixed price set by action, lowering costs over time. If UK produced SAF prices fell below global market prices, the government would subsidise producers, but if UK prices dropped then producers would repay the profits. The manifesto asks ministers to use airline tax receipts from the UK Emissions Trading Scheme to finance the CfD scheme, allowing the aviation sector to pay for SAF, but avoiding a new tax on the sector. The manifesto would require all public service obligation routes to be net-zero by 2030 which would spur zero-emission flights, thus bringing investment to regional airports. – Tia Fishlock

Germany to introduce unlimited train travel for £1.40 a day- In November 2022, The German Embassy in London announced “the digital Deutschlandticket” in which unlimited travel by rail, tram and bus anywhere in Germany will cost €49 per month- equivalent to just £1.40 per day. The 2023 one-month ticket will cover all but the fastest trains, plus U-Bahn and S-Bahn networks in the cities, alongside trams, most buses and even ferry services on the river Elbe in Hamburg. The move follows a summer 2022 experiment of offering a €9 access-all-areas ticket for each of June, July, and August; a measure which saw 20% of travellers opting for public transport over car journeys, saving 1.8m tonnes of carbon. The German Embassy says cheaper public transport measures are now only intended “to cut CO2 emissions” but also “to help people with the cost of living”, which has risen drastically in Europe following the invasion of Ukraine. The deal, which is said to be ready around May 2023, is open to all nationalities and there is no need to book in advance. Charlotte Goldstone

Modal shift to cleaner transport fails to materialise – The International Transport Forum (ITF) has studied data on global transport from 2010 to 2021 and ultimately found that shifts to cleaner transport were not as high as expected. From 2010 to the pandemic, inland freight transport increased in Australia, Europe, and transition economies. Although there was a dip during the pandemic in transition economies by 4%, overall, many countries saw an increase in freight transport by 2021. The ITF found a positive correlation between per-capita GDP and transport demand, therefore finding that economic growth pushes transport demands. Although a few countries increased their freight transportation via rail, most countries which increased their freight movement inland did so via road transport, hindering climate goals. Before the pandemic, rail transport in many European countries had increased, except the Balkans were seen to contradict this pattern. However, since covid, most European countries saw a drop in rail use due to the various lockdowns and their restrictions causing European rail passenger transport to fall by 51%. Alternatively, Covid caused only a small impact on road passenger transport.  Private vehicles allowed people to adhere to social distancing rules, whereas public transport did not allow for the same provisions, so car shares significantly increased, most noticeably in North Macedonia (+26%). – Tia Fishlock

Taxing shipping pollution would raise nearly £2bn a year for the UK Government – UK shipping activity was responsible for 22 million tonnes of CO2 in 2021 – equivalent to a third of all the UK’s cars. If the UK government were to include all the sector’s emissions in its cap-and-trade scheme, these emissions could generate nearly £2 billion annually. However, T&E’s analysis shows that with the government’s current plans, less than 10% of UK shipping emissions would be covered, generating just £170 million a year. This is because while the government is considering an extension of its carbon market into shipping to ships that are above 5000 gross tonnage and making domestic voyages, cargo or passenger ship sailing would not be made to pay anything, despite these international voyages making up for about 90% of the UK’s shipping emissions. Jon Hood, sustainable shipping manager at T&E UK, said: “The government is currently forfeiting nearly two billion pounds a year by not pricing shipping pollution”. UK shipping emissions need to halve by 2030 if the UK is to meet its climate targets and so pricing the UK’s shipping emissions is a win for the climate and a win for the exchequer, says T&E. – Charlotte Goldstone