New report shows local transport is the main contributor to UK air pollution


A new report from the Campaign for Better Transport’s Tracks thought leadership program has found that serious and urgent measures need to be taken by the UK government and local authorities to reduce local transport emissions to help improve air pollution.

Produced by the Tracks program, which aims to promote research and discussion on key transportation issues, the report, Air pollution and transport: Time to clear the air?, shows that more needs to be done to reduce emissions from all forms of road transport and suggests how the UK can have cleaner, greener travel options.

The report reveals that local road transport is the main contributor to roadside nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions and hence to nitrogen dioxide (NO₂) pollution exposure in many towns and cities.

Diesel cars contribute significantly more to these emissions than petrol cars. This, coupled with the fact that most vans, trucks and buses also use diesel and also contribute to roadside NOx emissions, means that in order to reduce roadside NO₂, it is necessary to reduce NOx from diesel engines.

The report makes a number of recommendations, including:

• Retirement of older, more polluting diesel buses, taxis and delivery trucks, and bus retrofitting to make them cleaner;

• Existing policy must ensure the development, purchase and use of less polluting vehicles is continued;

• The government should support targeted local car scrappage schemes to get the most polluting vehicles off the road;

• Local authorities need to consider reaching an agreement with local bus operators to use less polluting buses on specific routes, scrap older buses, and retrofit newer ones;

• Integrate emissions conditions in licensing agreements for taxis;

• Promote freight consolidation centers to enable the use of electric vehicles (EVs) for last-mile delivery;

• Introduce higher parking charges and permits for high-emission diesel cars.

The Campaign for Better Transport is the UK’s leading authority on sustainable transport, and champions travel solutions that improve people’s lives and reduce environmental damage. The lobbying group promotes and campaigns for innovative, practical transport policies at local and national levels.

“This report shows that there are practical and cost-effective ways to cut pollution from all types of road traffic, but this needs action by the government, not just by local authorities.

“We need policies to cut the level of road traffic, as well as moves toward low-emission vehicles,” noted Stephen Joseph, chief executive of Campaign for Better Transport.

“We hope this research will inform the UK government’s forthcoming Clean Air strategy and will help the local authorities currently developing plans for Clean Air Zones (CAZs).”


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About Author


Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).