‘All public transport should be free within ten years’

More than 100 recommendations made to help drive down climate emissions.

‘All public transport should be free within ten years’ iStock

Free public transport and ‘green’ grants should be offered to drive down climate emissions, a report has urged.

Think tank IPPR’s cross-party Environmental Justice Commission said the transition to a low-carbon world must be fair and involve people directly – or the public will “veto” it.

It makes more than 100 recommendations, including an upgraded free-to-use local public transport system by 2030 to make green travel easy.

It also proposes a £7.5bn a year ‘GreenGo’ scheme – similar to the help-to-buy programme – to provide loans and grants to help households insulate their homes and switch to green heating and transport.

It urges the UK Government to increase public investment in climate and nature action by £30bn a year and says all workers in high-carbon industries should be offered retraining opportunities.

The commission is making its final recommendations after conducting a series of citizens’ juries around the country.

Scotland has a target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions to “net-zero” by 2045, which requires cutting pollution to as close to zero as possible and offsetting any that remains with a measure such as planting trees.

The IPPR report comes ahead of crucial global climate talks in Glasgow, and in the wake of warnings from climate advisers that not enough is being done to cut emissions.

The citizens’ juries, which took place in Aberdeenshire, Tees Valley and County Durham, the South Wales Valleys and Thurrock in Essex, called for national leadership to drive the change.

People also wanted the green choice to be the easy one, especially for those on low incomes, and for the transition to be delivered in a fair way, such as protecting the poor from the costs of changes, according to the report.

Ewen, a juror from Aberdeenshire, said: “It’s got to be fair. If it’s unfair, then people won’t buy into it, and you need people to buy into it. People have got to be involved in transition, because it’s all about people.”

Labour MP and former environment secretary Hilary Benn, who is co-chair of the commission, said: “People must be at the heart of the UK’s rapid transition to net-zero, or else – to put it bluntly – it won’t succeed.

“Government must clearly set out the broad direction of travel and provide the resources and regulation needed to get there, but everyone affected, from workers in industries that will have to change to communities across the UK, must have greater power to take decisions that affect them.”

What else did the report recommend?

  • Legal minimum energy efficiency standard for social rented homes
  • Training 300,000 jobs to carry out home retrofits
  • Support for UK towns and cities to reallocate road space to cycling, walking and green space
  • Healthy, sustainable and free school meals for more children
  • National targets for eating more fruit and veg and less meat and dairy
  • All foods associated with deforestation removed from UK supply chains before 2030

What is the UK Government saying?

A spokesman said: “Tackling climate change must be a shared endeavour, and our ambition puts affordability and fairness at its heart, hand in hand with supporting economic growth and prosperity across the UK.”

The spokesman said the government continued to engage households and businesses in efforts to eliminate the UK’s contribution to climate change.

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