The Transport Decarbonisation Plan: what you need to know

The government’s long awaited Transport Decarbonisation Plan was published this week, offering much-needed clarity on plans to get this notoriously challenging sector to net zero.

The 220 page plan reaffirmed existing commitments and also offered new headline announcements, such as its plan to phase out the sale of new diesel and petrol HGVs by 2040.

We’ve outlined the key pledges, new and old, here.

Public transport

  • Delivery of a “world class cycling and walking network” in England by 2040.
  • A commitment to invest £2 billion over five years into cycling and walking, with the aim that half of all journeys in towns and cities will be cycled or walked by 2030.

Buses and coaches

  • Support to deliver 4,000 new zero emission buses and the infrastructure needed to support them.
  • Delivery of the first “All-Electric Bus Town or City”.
  • The govt is currently consulting on a phase our date for the sale of new non-zero emission buses. It says it will also consult on a phase out date for the sale of new non-zero emission coaches.


  • A promise to “deliver a net zero railway network by 2050”.
  • An ambition to remove all diesel-only trains from the network by 2040.
  • Delivery of an “ambitious” yet “cost-effective” programme of electrification.
  • Supporting the development of battery and hydrogen trains.
  • Building extra capacity on the rail network to meet growing passenger and freight demand.
  • Working with industry to modernise fares ticketing and retail to encourage a shift to rail.
  • Improving rail journey connectivity with walking, cycling and other modes of transport.
  • The introduction of a rail freight growth target, and incentivise early take up of low carbon traction for rail freight.


  • Plans to consult on regulatory options to deliver petrol and diesel phase out dates for new vehicles.
  • A new zero emission cars and vans delivery plan has been published – you can read that here.
  • A consultation will take place this year on the phase out of sales of new non-zero emission two/three wheelers. The target date is 2035.
  • An action plan will be published this year to build new UK opportunities for zero emission light powered vehicles.
  • A pledge to make 25% its own car fleet ultra low emission by December 2022, moving to 100% by 2027.

HGVS / freight and logistics

  • Plans to phase out the sale of new diesel and petrol HGVs by 2040, subject to consultation.
  • The consultation proposes a 2035 phase out date for vehicles weighing from 3.5 to 26 tonnes and 2040 for vehicles weighing more than 26 tonnes – or earlier if a faster transition seems feasible.
  • Measures to transform “last mile” deliveries.
  • Financial and non-financial incentives to stimulate demand for zero emission trucks.


  • A pledge to “plot a course to net zero” for the domestic maritime sector, with indicative targets from 2030.
  • Plans to consult on setting a planned phase out date for the sale of new non-zero emission domestic vessels.
  • A consultation will launch this year on the right steps to support or mandate the uptake of shore power in the UK.
  • A pledge to extend the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) to support renewable fuels in shipping.


  • Government will consult on its Jet Zero strategy – which will set out a path to net zero aviation by 2050.
  • A future consultation on a target for UK domestic aviation to reach net zero by 2040.
  • A future consultation on a target for decarbonising emissions from airport operations in England by 2040.
  • Support for the development of new and zero carbon UK aircraft technology through the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI).
  • Funding for zero emission flight infrastructure R&D at UK airports.
  • Plans to kick-start commercialisation of UK sustainable aviation fuels (SAF).
  • Plans to further develop the UK Emissions Trading Scheme to help accelerate aviation decarbonisation.

Place making

Transport decarbonisation principles are to embedded in spatial planning and across transport policymaking. Plans include:

  • A £12 billion investment in local transport systems this Parliament – enabling local authorities to tackle congestion and air pollution.
  • A pledge to make carbon reduction “a fundamental part of local transport planning and funding”.
  • A pledge to publish a “Local Authority Toolkit” in 2021 to support local areas deliver more sustainable transport measures.
  • The creation of at least one zero emission transport city and four industrial “SuperPlaces”.

Low carbon fuels

  • A pledge to increase the main Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation (RTFO) target.
  • The introduction of petrol with up to 10% ethanol as standard petrol in Sept 2021.
  • Review the role of fuels with higher biocontent, explore how market barriers can be removed.


  • A Hydrogen Strategy is due to be published in Summer 2021, to look at how it can be used in transport and the wider economy.
  • £3 million of investment is earmarked for the UK’s first “hydrogen transport hub” in the Tees Valley.

Improving choice and efficiency

  • Action to increase average road vehicle occupancy by 2030.
  • Publish guidance for local authorities on support for shared occupancy schemes.
  • Support car clubs to go fully zero emission.
  • Consult on mobility as a Service Code of Practice.
  • Evaluate whether e-scooters should be legalised, subject to trials.
  • Explore the introduction of a new sustainable travel reward scheme supported by businesses, community organisations and charities.
  • Support for UK businesses to help reduce employee emissions through a “CommuteZero” scheme.