A report by the Science and Technology Select Committee said: “In the long-term, widespread personal vehicle ownership does not appear to be compatible with significant decarbonisation.”
The Committee says technology alone cannot solve the problem of greenhouse gas emissions from transport.
It argues that the government cannot achieve sufficient emissions cuts by swapping existing vehicles for cleaner versions and demand improvements in public transport which benefit health as well as the climate.
The committee critisized the government’s policies on the costs of transport. They emphasized that financial incentives to buy cleaner cars are insufficient.
The MPs want the government to reduce the overall number of vehicles required, by promoting and improving public transport, reducing the cost of public transport relative to driving, encouraging vehicle usership in place of ownership (car sharing, car hire and taxis) and boosting walking and cycling.
Ministers have held down fuel duty increases in recent years following lobbying from motoring groups.
But the MPs say they should ensure that the annual increase in fuel duty is never lower than the average increase in rail or bus fares.
For drivers investing in electric vehicles there should be a better network of charging points.
But there’s a warning that more research is needed on the environmental impact of the batteries of electric vehicles.
The report warns: “Hydrogen technology may prove to be cheaper and less environmentally damaging than battery-powered electric vehicles. The government should not rely on a single technology.