Today within the UK, despite the focus on renewables and alternative fuels, oil still turns the wheels of the transport sector. Furthermore 97 percent of transport energy consumption is from petroleum products. In addition to cars, public transport operators depend on diesel to run their bus and coach networks and many of their rail services.
However, the role of transport in the economy has mushroomed. People travel for business, social, domestic and pleasure purposes, and the sustained level of oil consumption associated with transport since 2000, despite improvements in engine efficiency, is shown in the chart below (which also sub-divides small and large vehicles).Surface transport is the largest user of oil products. Petrol and diesel (with limited volumes of LPG) account for over 50 percent of all UK oil usage.
The Taskforce members suggest the following:
- Continue measures to improve energy efficiency and wean transport from its dependence on oil. These include promoting technological developments such as hybrid engines, vehicle electrification and weight reduction, both for cars and public transport.
- Coordinate a package of measures to deliver behavioural change and secure modal shift from cars to sustainable public transport.
- Introduce fiscal measures to promote more carbon and fuel efficient modes of travel. For example, remove the current annual £9 billion tax break on fuel for domestic airlines and channel the income to public transport investment.
- Maintain short, medium and long-term public investment to support bus, coach and rail travel (even in the current challenging economic environment).
- Change the regulatory environment so that regulators are mandated to encourage the uptake of more fuel-efficient technologies. For example, giving the CAA a mandate to encourage the uptake of biofuels for aviation in a manner that parallels the mandate for the FAA in North America.
Within all of the above, transport policies designed to protect the disadvantaged members of society should be regarded as particularly important.