This paper examines the extent to which central government land transport strategy and policy is supporting climate change mitigation in the transport sector. It examines transport strategies and policies as well as past and projected land transport spending in four countries – Ireland, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand. It then assesses the extent to which these strategies, policies, and funding regimes are supportive of a transition to sustainable transport regimes and substantial reductions in emissions.
Transport provides a significant challenge for countries seeking to reduce their carbon emissions. It is a primary driver of overall emissions on a national level, and has proved to be the hardest sector from which to cut carbon emissions. Central governments are responsible for setting overall national emission reduction goals and have a significant role to play in setting the strategic agenda for emission reductions from transport.
Substantial emission reductions from the transport sector are possible but will require, at the minimum, vehicle efficiency improvements, alternative fuel sources and modal shift from driving towards public transport, walking, and cycling. If transport is to play its part in the achievement of national emission reduction goals, a change in course is needed in all four countries, as all are off track with regard to emission reductions from transport. Of the four case study countries, only the United Kingdom has been able to reduce transport emissions to below 1990 levels, demonstrating that action to date has been insufficient to achieve the desired emission reductions. In New Zealand, Ireland and Australia, the change in course will need to be dramatic.