Planning a route to a low carbon future for transport in the West of England

Topics under discussion included: improving air quality; smart logistics and last mile delivery; encouraging shifts to different modes of transport, including towards walking and cycling; digitisation; meeting public transport needs; and how to ensure that existing and new build housing is ready for electric vehicles.

The West of England is home to several fast-growing communities, business hubs and globally connected distribution networks, all of which have changing transport needs. Decisions made today will have important ramifications for the future of the region.

The region currently has plans to deliver over 100,000 new homes and 80,000 new jobs. Additionally, there are plans for major infrastructure investments underway, such as improved local rail services, mass rapid transport alongside upgrades to highway infrastructure and improved road network management.

However, the region already has significant and rising problem with traffic congestion. Department for Transport projections show a future increase of 24% in total vehicle miles in the Bristol-Bath region, despite national trends of declining per capita travel. There is also an increasing focus on clean air issues.

To fulfil national obligations under the Climate Change Act, the UK will need to cut transport emissions by more than half by the middle of the 2030s. As part of this, transport in the West of England will undergo a rapid transformation.

The number of vehicles on the roads powered by electricity and alternative fuels is projected to go from the tens of thousands to the tens of millions. Delivering this will require huge changes in not only transport infrastructure, but also energy systems, digitisation, global supply chains, city planning, and even the financial system.

Tim Bowles, Mayor of the West of England, commented, “The West of England Combined Authority’s priority is clean economic growth that benefits everyone in our region. Transport is crucial to this and by working together as a region, we can address the challenges that come with being an increasingly popular place to live and work.

Improving public transport is essential to tackling congestion and reducing carbon emissions – this includes trains, buses, cycling and walking routes. We’re being ambitious with plans to improve our suburban rail network, open new railway stations, re-opening closed lines and exploring innovative light rail options to ensure we have a rail network which is fit for a cleaner future.

“We’re also looking at how new technology can help us become more sustainable with smart ticketing and on-demand services, including car-sharing, to give people more travel options and reduce the number of journeys.”

Myles McCarthy, Director of Implementation at the Carbon Trust said, “The decisions we make today are going to have an impact for decades to come, so we need to make sure they are the right ones. We know that we will see far more electric vehicles on the roads soon,  which is already leading to changes in infrastructure. But we also need to think about technologies that are coming further down the line, such as autonomous vehicles, delivery drones, and the use of artificial intelligence for dynamic transport planning.

“With the right plans in place, we can create healthier, more connected communities, and a prosperous economy for the West of England, at the same time as taking action on climate change and air pollution.”

Eman Martin-Vignerte, Head of Government Affairs at Bosch, added, “As a major local employer, we know that the challenges of commuting and getting around in the West of England are increasing all the time. Bosch has always been committed to improving people’s quality of life through technology, and we are working hard on the solutions that will make commuting and mobility stress, accident and emission free. These challenges are complex, which is why it’s so vital to gather a range of stakeholders to discuss the route forward.

“More than ever, it’s important to tackle the challenges together, and head-on. Bosch has been pursuing an innovation agenda around modern travel to create practical, efficient solutions for commuters and residents. We’re looking forward to continuing this work with the excellent ideas and collaborations that were raised around the table.”



Notes to editor

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About the Carbon Trust

Established in 2001, the Carbon Trust works with businesses, governments and institutions around the world, helping them contribute to, and benefit from, a more sustainable future through carbon reduction, resource efficient strategies, and commercialising low carbon businesses, systems and technologies.

The Carbon Trust:

  • Works with corporates and governments, helping them to align their strategies with climate science and meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.
  • Provides expert advice and assurance, giving investors and financial institutions the confidence that green finance will have genuinely green outcomes.
  • Provides independent insight and support the development low carbon technologies and solutions, building the foundations for the energy system of the future.

Headquartered in London, the Carbon Trust has a global team of over 30 nationalities based across five continents.