Driving Down Car Use in Scotland by 20% – A Strategic Approach to Behaviour Change for Net-Zero: TRANSPORT Smart Class, Scotland 2022 Retrospective


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At TRANSPORT Smart Class, Scotland 2022 we were delighted to welcome Transport Scotland’s Heather Cowan (Head of Climate Change & Just Transition) and Phil McCluskey (Head of Sustainable Transport Demand) to discuss the Scottish Government’s approach to meeting its world-leading commitment to reduce car use by 20% by 2030, in support of their wider net-zero ambitions.

Heather and Phil’s opening keynote overviewed the behaviour change approach developed through the Transport Scotland route map, published in draft in January 2022, which recognises that individual behaviour change happens in the context of the social and material environments in which people live, and which sets out the interventions that will enable people to adopt better ways of living by creating a social and material context where reduced car use is a normal, easy, attractive and routine behaviour to adopt.

Their presentation explained how the framework of interventions in the route map supports behaviour change at both the individual and system level. Phil and Heather set out how the approach unlocks benefits for car users and non-car users, including for health, wellbeing, safety, the environment and the public realm. They also outlined the collaborative approach taken with local and regional partners to support the reduction in car use, and how individuals, organisations and businesses can support this transformation.

Summary of presentation highlights:

  • Share of greenhouse gas emissions by transport mode in Scotland and commitment to reduce car kms;
  • Exploring options to induce behaviour change: a shift to active travel, increased use of public transport and disincentivising car use;
  • Element energy modelling to show a 20% reduction in car distance is required by 2030;
  • The main trade-off – achieving transport carbon budgets by getting rid of petrol & diesel vehicles and reducing the amount these vehicles are used;
  • Better lives and why we need change – reducing car use to improve health, wellbeing and social & economic inclusion; cars’ contribution to poor air quality, premature deaths, road fatalities/injuries, physical inactivity, noise pollution and community severance; negative impacts of congestion on high streets, the economy, deprived areas and vulnerable groups;
  • Mode shift to cycling and walking is not enough – UK and Netherlands pre-Covid data;
  • Sustainable travel hierarchy: walking and wheeling, cycling, public transport, taxis & shared transport, private car;
  • Taking climate action isn’t just about electrification;
  • Importance of trip purpose;
  • Inequalities of the status quo;
  • Support for change – public opinion and climate assembly surveys;
  • Policy interventions and 20% car km reduction route map development:
  • Framework of behaviours and behaviour change policy;
  • Applying the COM-B model to each of the 4 sustainable travel behaviours and mapping key policy interventions to the behaviour change wheel framework;
  • National ambition, local circumstances – Transport Scotland’s collaboration with COSLA, local and regional partners to explore how Scotland’s urban/rural variation can best be taken account of;
  • How can organisations and businesses support the transformation route map?

If you meet our regular delegate qualification criteria but were unable to join us at Citation, Glasgow, for the live in-person event on December 7th, CLICK HERE and complete the short “Download form” (located at the bottom of the post) to receive a unique link enabling free access to the presentation video recordings and slides (including the film footage and slides from Heather and Phil’s keynote).

Those qualifying to receive the rich presentation content from this event include commissioning, procurement, trialling, partnering and policy leads, senior influencers, strategic decision makers and planners from local authorities (e.g. city, borough, metropolitan, district and county councils); public transport operators; regional transport partnerships, sub-regional transport bodies, combined authorities, integrated transport authorities and passenger transport executives; highways authorities and road operators; government and supporting national transport agencies; fleet operators, parking operators, prime contractors etc.

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TRANSPORT Smart Class, Scotland 2022

On December 7th we will be casting a spotlight over Scotland, hosting our speakers discussions on how the latest digital innovations can help overcome the transport and mobility challenges faced by the city-regions of Glasgow & Clyde Valley, Edinburgh & South East Scotland, Stirling, Tay, Aberdeen, Inverness & Highlands, and beyond.


   Glasgow, UK

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