Our Climate Change Strategy – and comment on the Government’s Decarbonising Transport plan

Today marks both the launch of our Group Climate Change Strategy, and the publication of the Government's Decarbonising Transport Strategy - an exciting day on the journey towards Net Zero.

Go-Ahead Climate Change Strategy  

Go-Ahead has launched its Climate Change Strategy.  It sets out how we will lead the transport industry in carbon reduction by achieving a 75% cut in emissions by 2035 and become a net zero business by 2045.

As a responsible business, we must play our part in reducing our emissions and adapting to the impacts of a changing climate.  Public transport is itself part of the solution to climate change – the more journeys made by buses and trains, alongside walking and cycling, the greater our contribution to reducing emissions.

Submitted to the Science Based Targets Initiative for verification, our targets are in line with the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5°C by 2050.  Our journey to becoming a net zero business includes:

  • Converting Go-Ahead’s entire fleet of 5,000 UK buses to zero emission vehicles by 2035
  • A decarbonised rail fleet by 2035
  • Improvements to air quality by 2025 through a 17% drop in carbon monoxide emissions, a 49% cut in hydrocarbons, a 63% fall in nitrogen oxides and a 55% cut in particulate matter from vehicles
  • A 25% reduction in water us by 2025 through a significant reduction in leakage, together with responsible management in all operations
  • A significant improvement in energy efficiency at all Go-Ahead premises by 2035
  • Reduction of overall waste volumes and recycling of 60% of waste by 2025

The full strategy can be accessed at https://www.go-ahead.com/sustainability/climate-change

Government’s Transport Decarbonisation Plan 

The Government is also today publishing its Transport Decarbonisation Plan.  It is pleasing that there is now a clearer transition plan towards zero emission across a range of transport modes.

The plan does recognise that public transport and active travel should be ‘the natural first choice for all who can take them’ but we would like to see more bold action to encourage behaviour change.  In 2019 the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee said ‘widespread personal vehicle ownership does not appear to be compatible with significant decarbonisation’.  As fuel duty revenue reduces the Government will need to look at other ways of allocating costs to road users; this could be focused on urban areas targeting both emissions and congestion.   More widely, incentives such as a second car scrappage scheme could encourage people to only use their cars where absolutely necessary while freeing up previous community spaces. In parallel apps that inform people about the emissions and health benefits, as well as the costs of different travel options, can drive behaviour change.

Our strategy and the Government plan being published on the same day highlights how important collaboration is to the journey to zero emission – between governments, operators, suppliers and partners.  We will all need to work together to ensure a sustainable world for future generations. 

Go-Ahead 

Go-Ahead is one of the leading public transport operators in the UK, connecting communities through bus and rail services. Our purpose is to be the local partner taking care of journeys that enhance the lives and wellbeing of our communities across the world.  

We employ more than 30,000 people across our bus and rail businesses in the UK, Singapore, Ireland, Norway and Germany. In addition to the travelling public, our customers include governments and local authorities. We are committed to tackling climate change, poor air quality and social isolation. 

Bus 

Go-Ahead is one of the UK’s largest bus operators. We run a fleet of nearly 6,000 buses across England and run a quarter of London’s buses for Transport for London. Outside London, we serve high-density commuter markets in the North East, Greater Manchester, East Yorkshire, Oxfordshire, East Anglia, the South East and the South West of England. We also operate a bus contract in Singapore and two bus contracts in Ireland. 

Rail 

We operate rail franchises in the UK, Germany and Norway. We operate the largest rail operations in the UK – Southeastern and GTR (Southern, Gatwick Express, Great Northern and Thameslink). This is managed through our 65 per cent owned subsidiary Govia, which is 35 per cent owned by Keolis.  In Germany and Norway, our contracts are run exclusively by Go-Ahead.  

Oxford Bus Company

The Oxford Bus group of companies has connected passengers across Oxford, South Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Reading since 1881.

Phil Southall

Managing Director

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