Charity warns climate targets will be missed without “community-led climate action”.
Scotland will fail to achieve net zero carbon emissions without more "community-led climate action", according to a new report from a leading transport charity.
The Community Transport Association (CTA) warns that Scotland’s ambitious climate targets will be missed unless more communities are supported to deliver local transport projects and services like community-owned buses, bicycles and car clubs.
The Scottish Government has set targets to reduce car use by 20% by 2030 and achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2045, but missed its legally binding carbon reduction targets in 8 out of the last 12 years. Transport is Scotland’s biggest emitting sector.
The CTA said that “time is running out” and “we need a different approach”, calling for more investment by the government and councils to maximise the “full potential of local charities, community groups and social enterprises” to empower people to change to more sustainable travel behaviours.
David Kelly, CTA’s director for Scotland, said: “Scotland’s transport emissions have barely changed since the 1990s. We need to do more – and we need to change our approach.
“As grassroots organisations, local Community Transport operators are perfectly placed to encourage and empower people to leave the car at home and travel more sustainably.
“Community Transport operators are doing fantastic work to reduce carbon emissions, tackle car dependency and encourage active travel. They’re making journeys by bus, shared car or electric bike more accessible, affordable and attractive for everyone, regardless of age, disability, gender, income or geography.
“But government, funders and other stakeholders need to do more to help our sector. Communities require more investment and practical support. Community Transport is an essential partner in Scotland’s Just Transition to net zero to ensure no one and no community is left behind.”
CTA represents over 170 non-profit, community-owned operators in Scotland. These local groups plug gaps in the public transport network with community-owned buses, dial-a-ride, non-emergency patient transport, car clubs, walking groups, cycling classes and more.
Scotland’s Community Transport fleet of buses, minibuses, vans and cars is now 18% electric, up from 12% in 2021.
However, 54% of local groups say a lack of funding is a major barrier for them to transition to electric vehicles (EVs). CTA estimates that vehicle costs have soared by 17% in the last 12 to 18 months.
The CTA’s report, Act Local, takes its name from the credo of Patrick Geddes, the pioneering Scottish town planner – “Think global, act local” – which has since become a watchword for climate activists and community groups alike.
Graham Dunn, manager of Community Transport Glasgow, which has a large zero-emissions fleet and runs a bus service in Drumchapel, said: “Community Transport can lead the way by moving to EVs and getting people out of their cars by providing transport solutions to local communities.
“We’re now able to provide a better, more accessible service with less polluting vehicles to some of the most deprived communities in Scotland.”