England's Economic Heartland should commit to going 'harder and faster' on reaching net zero emissions from transport before the nationwide legal requirement of 2050.
That is the message from EEH’s recent consultation on the draft Transport Strategy, with residents and organisations calling for an even more ambitious path to decarbonisation, particularly given the region’s renowned expertise in green technology innovation.
At their meeting on Friday, elected members of EEH’s Strategic Transport Forum committed EEH to producing a 'decarbonisation roadmap' by the end of 2021 which could include setting a regional carbon budget, against which future investment requirements would be prioritised.
England's Economic Heartland, which covers the area from Swindon to Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire to Hertfordshire (and includes Oxfordshire), received more than 200 consultation responses to the draft Transport Strategy. Of those that responded to the online survey, 76% supported the strategy overall.
Chair of the Strategic Transport Forum, Mayor Dave Hodgson, said: "We have received a clear message from the consultation that the Transport Strategy should go harder and faster on decarbonising the region's transport system. A more ambitious strategy for reaching net zero emissions is the right thing for both our region and our planet.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated trends around remote working and how we access services and goods. It has shown how quickly change can happen. There is now a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us to fast-track the future in ways that might otherwise have taken many years or decades to achieve. We need everyone - Government, local authorities, businesses and communities - to be collectively committed to decarbonisation. By working together - and harnessing our region’s world-renowned expertise in clean technology innovation - we can achieve our ambitions.”
The Transport Strategy will be launched in mid-February, so that it can take account of the Government's Transport Decarbonisation Plan and the Climate Change Committee's sixth Carbon Budget, which are due to be published in December. Work to reflect other key messages from the consultation is also ongoing, before the Forum is presented with the Transport Strategy for its approval on February 5.