Greener transport must be designed with people in mind

The Institute for Public Policy Research have published a report titled ‘Moving together: A people-focussed pathway to fairer and greener transport’ which has been informed by analysis of England’s National Travel Survey and the Scottish Household Survey.

The report can be distilled down to the single, overarching recommendation it makes: ‘All decarbonisation pathways must be designed with people, and the principles of a just and fair transition, as their starting point.’

white airliner on gray pavement

The main takeaway from the report is that a minority of people are responsible for the vast majority of transport emissions, with 50% of the UK’s transport emissions being caused by 20% of the population.

It also reveals that over the course of a year, the relatively wealthy (earning over £100k per year) travel twice the distance of the less well off (under £30k)

The research also finds that:

  • Men are more likely to be high emitters than women, travelling significantly further by both car and plane
  • People from more deprived neighbourhoods tend to travel significantly less and emit less greenhouse gas than those from the least deprived
  • People with a disability are likely to travel far less than those without (including by plane), and their emissions are much lower as a result
  • People from a non-white British ethnicity tend to travel less far and emit less
  • Those aged 35 to 64 emit the most from private transport

The report divides the population into 12 transport profiles and scores each with an Emissions ranking, an Income ranking and a Surface Travel ranking.

At one end of the scale is the ‘Highly Affluent, Unrestricted Mobility’ profile, the average representative of which is a 37 year-old, professional white male. This profile achieves the worst possible score in each category (scoring 1 out of 12),

At one end of the scale is the ‘Car Free, High Bus, Less Affluent’ profile, the average representative of which is a 43 year-old, white female earning around £13,000.

79% of this group make no flights, they travel the furthest by bus and the fourth furthest by active travel. Over 38% of their travel each year is by public transport or active travel. Tellingly, 40% of this profile live in the most deprived neighbourhoods 

Dr Maya Singer Hobbs, senior research fellow at IPPR, said: ‘Our transport system both reflects and contributes to social inequalities. Reducing emissions can actually tackle some of that injustice, if done fairly. But while not everyone needs to make the same changes, those who are financially best off need to do the most.’

Stephen Frost, principal research fellow at IPPR, said: ‘By putting people at the heart of our approach to reducing Britain’s climate impacts we demonstrate both who is best placed to cut their emissions at the pace needed and how doing so can help tackle the underlying unfairness in who the transport system currently works for.

‘Now is not the time to slow down our efforts to reach net zero, doing so just fuels existing transport inequalities. The next UK government must step up the pace by delivering a credible, fair and people-focussed plan for more sustainable travel.’

The report can be downloaded here.

Paul Day
Paul is the editor of Public Sector News.


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Help us break the news – share your information, opinion or analysis
Back to top