Martin Dean: All bus companies must race to net zero

Originally posted on the CPT website. For Net Zero Week 2021 Martin Dean, Go-Ahead Managing Director of Business Development and CPT Chairman, writes about the need for collaboration between bus companies and government to reach net zero.

Extreme weather events are becoming a regular feature of daily life, whether you’re in the UK or abroad. Clearly we have a challenge  - only three years ago, the UN International Panel on Climate Change warned we had 11 years left to curb emissions.

Buses are an environmental benefit for society. When you combine walking, cycling and public transport in preference to using the car, you’re actively fighting climate change. Private cars account for 55% of transport emissions, whereas buses account for just 3%.

However, we need to take a lead. We need to race to ‘net zero’ – getting our own house in order by focusing on making energy efficiencies from the depot to the bus ride in service.

Last week, Go-Ahead launched its climate change strategy – the most ambitious strategy for transport, backed up by science-based targets. In the strategy we set out our goal to be a net zero carbon business by 2045, and the first zero carbon transport provider.

This will be tough. It means reducing our emissions by 75% by 2035, with a zero emission UK bus fleet by 2035. That means in 14 years’ time all our 5,000+ buses will likely be operated by electricity or hydrogen. To put that into context, 14 years ago in 2007 we didn’t have a single electric bus in our operation.

But we know we can deliver this. We’ve achieved so much in the past five years, including running the UK’s largest electric bus fleet, reducing our emissions by 22% and receiving the highest score in transport from the Carbon Disclosure Project.

However, for all our efforts to be truly impactful, we need to work together and collaborate well with the Government. We need to build momentum for the bus sector and show best practice to other industries on how we are all taking on our fair share of tackling emissions.

Buses are clean, safe, reliable – and for the good of the planet. If we don’t seize the moment it’s a massive missed opportunity for the industry.

Read more about Go-Ahead's climate change strategy here.