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Decarbonising Transport in the
Race to Net Zero

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This year the UK is hosting the 26th annual Conference of the Parties (COP) which is considered the last chance for global leaders to come together and and discuss ways to tackle climate change. 

With 27% of excess greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the UK attributed to transport, the government have released a plan with ambitious targets to decarbonise in the race to net zero. 

Transport and infrastructure are an essential part of our lifestyles but cleaner methods of travel must be implemented in a bid to reduce the impact of GHG's on the environment and human health. 

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Percentage of GHG Emissions from transport in the UK (2019)



Cars & taxis

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Percentage of GHG Emissions by Transport Mode in the UK



Heavy goods vehicles (HGVs)


Light duty vehicles


Domestic shipping


Buses & coaches

Source: Department for Transport, 2019

1.4% Rail
1.2% Domestic Aviation
0.4% Motorcycles and mopeds
0.6% Other road transport
1.9% Other transport

The Race to Net Zero for Environmental & Human Health

Excess GHG's in the atmosphere warm up the Earth and cause changing weather patterns that can result in drought, wild fires and flooding; throwing the world off balance. Cutting out the carbon to reduce the effects of global warming not only benefits the environment but also human health by creating cleaner, healthier towns and cities. 

Co-benefits of decarbonising include improved air quality through less polluting vehicles, smarter and connected cities, better traffic management and improved road infrastructure. Noise reduction, improved public health and economy growth through new jobs are outlined in government plans as additional benefits of decarbonising. 

Road vehicles contribute to ambient air pollution from nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone (O3), carbon dioxide (CO2) and fine particle matter (PM1, PM2.5, PM10). Exposure to these pollutants has been known to cause and exacerbate respiratory diseases and been linked to dementia and diabetes. 

By Law the UK's Emissions Must be Net Zero by 2050

Over 130 nations have now set net zero targets. The UK aims to achieve these targets through a number of initiatives by investing in active travel, introducing zero emission fleets of cars and vans, decarbonising railways and accelerating maritime and aviation decarbonisation. 

Decarbonising Transport with Air Quality Data

UK Decarbonisation Road Map

Rail network is net zero

50% of all journeys in towns & cities cycled or walked

End the sale of all new petrol & diesel cars and vans

All diesel trains to be removed from the network.

Incentivise take up of low carbon traction by rail freight operators

Phasing out sale of new diesel & petrol buses & coaches

UK has world class cycling & walking network

End the sale of all non-zero emission HGVs

Domestic aviation is net zero

All new cars & vans must be 100% zero emission at tailpipe

Maritime sector is net zero

Aviation sector is
net zero

Road vehicles are net zero

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Evidence the Effectiveness of Decarbonising with Air Quality Data

Monitoring air quality provides us with real-time data and gives insight into baseline levels of pollution. This allows us to visualise and understand how a town or city lives and breathes and is essential for introducing evidence-based changes. Monitoring can be continued throughout and post intervention to assess the effectiveness of changes and identify whether they are working to clean up the air we breathe.

Using Air Quality Data in the Transport Sector

  • Understand how traffic can be re-routed to reduce congestion and emissions

  • Automatically turn vehicles to electric mode when pollution hotspots are detected

  • Alert the public through Variable Message Signs (VMS) to chose less polluted routes, stop idling in congestion or when it's safer to walk or cycle to school 

  • Evidence the need and effectiveness of cycle and pedestrian walking lanes in cities 

Using Air Quality Data for Local Authorities

  • Evidence the need and effectiveness of cycle and pedestrian walking lanes in cities 

  • Introduce and manage Clean Air Zones (CAZ) and Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTN's)

  • Assess pollution forecasts in advance of local events and inform residents using bespoke web applications.

  • Evidence the need and success of the electrification of bus and coach fleets

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Air Quality Data for Infrastructure &
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Learn more about how our air quality monitoring service is helping to build cleaner intelligent transport systems and cycling infrastructure.


Global pollution map 


Small-form, indicative air quality monitor

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