Government committee proposes 64mph speed limit and car-free Sundays to reduce emissions | CAR Magazine

Government committee proposes 64mph speed limit and car-free Sundays to reduce emissions

Published: 09 January 2023 Updated: 10 January 2023

► New proposal by Environmental Audit Committee
► Also suggests increased uptake of electric cars…
► … and incentivising walking and cycling

The Environmental Audit Committee has published a new report, in which it proposes a host of policy measures that could decrease the UK’s oil consumption and lower the country’s emissions.

The committee presents a ten-point proposal which piggybacks off the work of the International Energy Agency (IEA). The biggest changes include reducing the national speed limit on highways by “at least 10km/h” (around 6mph) and banning cars on Sundays in larger cities.

It also suggests making public transport cheaper, urging car-sharing practices, preferring high-speed trains to planes and incentivising walking and cycling. The committee said increasing the number of electric cars on the road will have a positive impact, too.

In all, the IEA says these changes could cut oil demand by 2.7 million barrels a day globally and ‘put the countries on track for a decline in oil demand consistent with what is required to reach net zero emissions by 2050.’

The committee also raised an interesting point about car design and car-buying trends. Cars are getting bigger and heavier – and because of this, the newest models that conform to the latest Euro 6d standards are emitting more CO2 than smaller cars from the older Euro 6c standard of 2017.

We can see this pattern emerging in the Society for Motor Manufacturer and Traders’ (SMMT) end-of-year sales figures. Six of the top 10 best-sellers for 2022 were SUVs, compared to just one in 2017.

Progress is being made, though. EVs outsold diesel cars for the first time in 2022, scooping up 16.6% of the market. That makes electric power the second most popular fuel choice for UK buyers behind petrol.

The committee says it is encouraged by the rate of growth in EV sales, but it recognises that it’ll take a few more years before the used vehicle stock transitions away from fossil fuels. It also states that ‘for the UK the UK to meet its successive carbon budgets under the Climate Change Act 2008 and the Paris Agreement, transport emissions must start coming down more rapidly.’