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Untying the knot: Decoupling oil and road transport

communities, poverty, resources, sustainability, transport

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Author(s):  Andrew Pendleton, Laura Bradley
Published date:  21 Oct 2011
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The Gordian knot that has bound oil and road transport together may be loosening. Untying the knot altogether now appears feasible in a nation such as the UK, but it will take a series of bold strokes on the part of government.

Not only has car use apparently peaked in the UK and other industrialised countries, with people now making fewer journeys and travelling less distance by car, but recent years have seen the biggest drop in new car CO2 emissions on record. The apparent ‘peak car’ trend suggests some fundamental shifts are taking place in transport, which date back to the 1990s. While we should not underestimate the significance of this trend, it is also important to recognise that with car use still so dominant, transport decarbonisation cannot be achieved without technological change. This report looks in detail at three key challenges faced by policymakers – technology (emissions and efficiency), finance (sustaining the public purse) and social justice (access for all) – and outlines a policy framework that could help to ensure these challenges are overcome.