Research Output

The governance of transport and climate change.

  Climate change is one of the key global policy issues of our time. Transport is the sector from which it has been hardest to cut emissions and, to make substantial progress in the future, action will be required at all levels of government from international to local. The governance of transport within this already challenging arena is further complicated by the existence of different structures for the management of transport modes and variations in formal governance structures across countries and regions.

This paper examines the prospect for deep cuts in CO2 emissions from transport through an examination of the key policy levers for change and considering the governance issues that surround them. The focus of the paper is the United Kingdom, and in particular England and Scotland. The UK is the first country to have a legally binding internal obligation to meet carbon dioxide reduction targets and this has prompted significant activity in both governance institutions and delivery. The research uses a multi-level governance framework to understand the policy environment in England and Scotland, capturing both the range of spatial actors and the influence of sectoral actors in what is a complex polity.

It is concluded that the policy approach currently appears constrained by a desire to divide accountability by formal institutional structures, thus failing to tackle the dispersed nature of travel and the national and international nature of businesses. There is currently a lack of clarity about the tiering of responsibilities between spatial levels and there is therefore a comparative lack of commitment to the potential for demand management and travel reduction strategies to contribute to carbon reduction. Carbon reduction policies are also influenced by strong industry lobbies whose goals may not be fully aligned with carbon reduction strategies. The profusion of actors engaged in climate change policy seems to dilute rather than promote effective policy making

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  • Library of Congress:

    HE Transportation and Communications

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    388 Transportation; ground transportation


Marsden, G. & Rye, T. (2010). The governance of transport and climate change. Journal of Transport Geography. 18, 669-678. doi:10.1016/j.jtrangeo.2009.09.014. ISSN 0966-6923



Climate change; governance; institutions; transport;

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