Zero Carbon Cumbria - Carbon reduction action across the county.

Transport and mobility Emissions reduction pathway


Executive summary

Emissions from travel accounts for around 40% of Cumbria’s 11.1MtCO2e priority emissions.

Tackling these emissions will therefore play a huge role in reducing Cumbria’s overall carbon footprint. It would also result in many additional benefits. Read on for our approach to tackling these emissions.

Mobility hub- vision

A vision for transport and mobility in Cumbria

By 2037, transport in Cumbria will be traveller-centred, with sustainable public, shared and active transport modes covering the first, last and all miles in between for all main routes for residents, visitors and business travel.

Cumbria will have a location-based net-zero carbon transport and mobility system that enables the county to thrive; encourages sustainable connectivity; and supports our diverse communities, businesses and visitors, while achieving maximum impact for the climate, protecting the environment and making Cumbria a better and more attractive place to live, work and visit. 

Right: Mobility hub

Why transport?

Access to reliable transport is essential for connecting communities, for access to services, education and employment, and also for facilitating a growing economy through efficient trading within and beyond Cumbria. 

Yet, there are significant impacts associated with transport. Transport is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in Cumbria. It also imposes significant financial burdens on individuals and businesses for vehicle operation and maintenance. Moreover, the increased number of vehicles can lead to more congestion, pot holes, longer commute times, and decreased productivity and stress. Dependence on private cars may contribute to health problems due to sedentary lifestyles and can affect overall access to transportation, limiting options for those who cannot afford or choose not to own a vehicle, making public transport services less feasible.

The large rural geography and small yet widespread population, significant visitor economy and dispersed services and employment hubs result in a reliance on private cars and to long distances for freight travel supporting businesses, and the growing trend of personal deliveries.

Travel in all its modes is a necessary practice, however it cannot continue to contribute to climate change at its current levels.  We therefore need to find a way in which residents, visitors and businesses can travel in ways which do not result in emissions of greenhouse gases.

Additional benefits

The scale of the challenge

In order to meet the Zero Carbon Cumbria Partnership’s (ZCCP) ambition of net zero carbon emissions by 2037, the ‘Summary of Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Cumbria’ report estimates that emissions from land-based transport associated with residents, visitors and businesses need to be reduced by 93% by 2037.

How will we achieve the vision?

To achieve the goal of a reduction of emissions by 93%, the national milestones within the Sixth Carbon Budget for transport have been accelerated to align with the 2037 target.  

For Cumbria this means an annual reduction in emissions associated with land-based resident/visitor/industry travel of around 13% between now and 2030, then increased to 20% per year through to 2037. Additionally there is an average reduction in emissions associated with car manufacture of around 8% per year. 

The decarbonisation trajectory for transport in the ‘Summary of Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Cumbria’ report focuses on the swift shift to electrification of vehicles and a reduction in individual journeys by private vehicle, instead opting for more sustainable ways to travel to give the best possible chance to reduce emissions.

However, decarbonising transport is complex and multifaceted. Whilst the climate crisis means the priority is to make the biggest reductions as quickly as possible, the approach needs to be holistic, and deliver an accessible, equitable and  integrated transport network that is less reliant on private vehicles and associated infrastructure and is aligned with protecting nature, improving public health and road safety, and enhancing societal connectivity and resilience.

The Transport Emissions Reduction Pathway (ERP) is a set of strategic priorities and proposed actions that have been developed collaboratively by a transport and mobility sector group comprising organisations that have an active role in travel in Cumbria. The group has analysed a range of data and research, taken a deep dive into current and future local and national policy, identified stakeholders and explored examples of best practice and innovation in order to identify the strategic actions that would contribute most to significant emission reduction in the sector, whilst also delivering benefits for people and place

Strategic priorities

Strategic priority 1.

No new infrastructure that will increase emissions (Avoid)

Woman working from home

Strategic priority 2.

Reduce the need to travel by car (Substitute)

Low carbon transpor

Strategic priority 3.

Travel better (Shift)

Car share

Strategic priority 4.

Make travel cleaner (Improve)

Electric vehicles

It is important to understand the social aspects of travel decisions, and be able to shape travel locally. People need to be able to see and understand what a low carbon way of life is, so they can aspire to it. This is a real opportunity to demonstrate innovative thinking and develop distinct alternative solutions to scenarios where increased road activity might once have been the default approach.

For the full list of emissions reduction and enabling actions which are proposed to deliver each strategic priority see the Transport and Mobility Emissions Reduction Action Plan.

The emissions reduction action plan also identifies some of the key challenges, considerations and potential collaborators for each action.

Who needs to be involved

Engagement and collaboration with residents, businesses, local authorities and other organisations in the county will be crucial to the successful delivery of the recommended actions. A range of organisations have been identified that are rooted in place and connected to their communities, and which could progress the brokering of partnerships, refine the solutions, and be key strategic delivery partners.  

The ZCC Partnership will continue to develop, review and update the pathway and actions to ensure it reflects learning from new research, delivery of actions and any strategic changes including policy, legislation and technology.


Key documents

The Emissions Reduction Pathway sets out the strategic direction to reduce carbon emissions. It includes a carbon baseline, a vision and objectives for a net-zero Cumbria, priority areas for reducing emissions and how we should tackle decarbonisation.

The Emissions Reduction Action Plan sets out detailed proposed actions for emissions reduction in each sector.  Actions are built around priority areas for decarbonisation and identify potential targets and key stakeholders for delivery

We welcome your feedback!

Your feedback is critical to the development of the plans. It will help inform the Cumbria-wide decarbonisation plan, due to be published at the end of the year. If you would like progress updates, please indicate that you would like us to contact you at the bottom of the form.

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