Streets to Decarbonisation

Emily Buddin and Rob Goodall

Global emissions over the next few decades will shape our planet for centuries to come and the risks of delaying our response are significant. As the leading meeting of transport practitioners, the focus at TPM around decarbonisation will need to be how we can best influence positive changes to movement patterns, the infrastructure that facilitates it, and the environment in which we move, as we seek to ensure that the transport sector plays its part.

Meeting the UK’s pledge of net-zero by 2050 requires a fundamental behavioural change. National governments, local governments and transport operators all have a role to play, but there is a challenge in identifying targets and establishing the right strategy to inform investment choices over the coming years.

Everyone has agreed that we now need to take action, but what does this action look like and how do we speed up our response? There is not a one-size-fits-all approach and we at Arup have talked more about the range of possible responses to this significant challenge here. It is up to those in the transport industry to think creatively and identify opportunities for a rapid, scalable responses that will work on the ground. TPM is the perfect forum for truly holistic thinking and collaboration, spanning the many facets of what is considered ‘transport’ and the discussions and conversations at this meeting should be focused on how we will address these challenges.

Great work has already been started to spearhead action. For instance, Transport for Wales, with the support of Arup, is looking to see how they can bridge the carbon gap and what level of contribution could be made by promoting active travel, remote working and even road user charging towards meeting the stretching emissions targets set by the Welsh Government. We have also spent the last year working with the Sheffield City Region to develop a pragmatic route-map  towards a zero carbon Sheffield. This plan considers every aspect of life and work in the city, and includes over 80 recommended actions everyone, including the Council, can take to catalyse a step-change in how Sheffield approaches its commitment to its zero carbon target.

Whilst these strategic plans are crucial to starting the conversation and placing them in people’s consciousness, large-scale emissions reductions will need be achieved as a result of many small actions. A holistic approach that focuses on improving people’s lives through sustainable transport systems will achieve the most wide-ranging positive outcomes. Enabling active travel journeys should be considered as, if not more important, than other policies that encourage switching our private and public transport fleets to new and innovative zero emissions technologies.

Therefore, active travel must be embedded into the fabric of our towns and cities to encourage and enable all users to make more sustainable choices for all journeys. Arup has worked in partnership with the Government of Jersey to set out a framework for achieving just that – the Public Realm and Movement Strategy for St Helier. The visionary framework seeks to stimulate lasting transformative change to movement patterns in St Helier, starting with its streets. The framework provides an actionable toolkit of radical public realm proposals that rebalance priority within the transport network towards active modes, forming a key component of their zero carbon action plan. This approach takes big ambitious government targets, and breaks them down into digestible proposals, working with local people to help build their zero carbon transport network and we will be talking about this in more detail at TPM 2021.

Achieving change at the scale needed to realise national and global emissions targets is undoubtedly daunting, however it is a shared responsibility, and with action at every level, the benefits – both in terms of carbon neutrality and more broadly – are significant. We believe that starting at a street level can be the catalyst for this change.

“If you can change the street, you can change the world.”

Janette Sadik- Khan

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