Chapter 7.2.1 Strategic approaches

Establish a city-wide zero-emission zone in operation in every city by 2030

Zero-emission zones legislation would provide a clear market signal about the removal of fossil fuel vehicles from our cities, provide the impetus needed for large-scale urban renewal programmes and provide adequate preparation time for local authorities, manufacturers and supply chain, and consumers.

UK Govt
Scottish Govt
Local Authorities
Emissions reduction
Behaviour change

Transport emissions make up a quarter of Scotland’s climate emissions. Decarbonisation of transport will rely heavily on reducing emissions from private cars, the largest source of transport carbon. Climate emission reductions in the transport sector require increased walking and cycling for shorter journeys, increased public transport usage and the electrification of surface transport.

The Scottish Government committed in the Programme for Government 2019-20167 to “consult on Scotland’s ambition to make the transformative shift to zero or ultra-low emission city centres by 2030” but this has not been progressed.

City centres should play a leading role in the achievement of the 2030 carbon reduction target – they are where it is easiest to improve and electrify public transport, and have shorter journeys that can be more easily changed to active travel. This can be supported by freight consolidation centres transferring goods to smaller electric vehicles for local deliveries.

Whilst there is a cost to local implementation, this will help to catalyse action on government targets to phase out the purchase of fossil fuel cars and vans by 2030. It also helps deliver improvements in air quality, reduces congestion and helps build better neighbourhoods and quality of life, with their associated health improvements.

As part of the transition, the IPPR report ‘Fairly Reducing Car use in Scottish cities’168 offers solutions to ensure that moving away from private cars does not disadvantage low-income households. This transition should include the creation of fair workplace travel plans negotiated with unions and appropriate exemptions for vehicles for disabled people.

For further information:


Fairly reducing car use in Scottish Cities – a Just Transition for transport for low-income households, IPPR, 2022,

Fairly reducing car use in Scottish Cities – a Just Transition for transport for low-income households, IPPR, 2022,

Version 1.0: September 2023

The contents of this document will be updated on a regular basis.