HS2 – towards a zero carbon future examines the carbon case for HS2 – considering its impacts from construction, operation and modal shift. We are pleased to have commissioned this report, as an independent review of the carbon case for HS2, a subject which is largely being overlooked in the current debate on HS2.

The report offers a detailed, thorough and balanced assessment of a set of complex issues. It considers the design, construction and operation of HS2 as well as the wider policy shifts required to achieve the government’s net zero target. As such, this is a report “to” HSRIL, rather than one “from” the organisation.

The author, Ralph Smyth, who formerly led the Campaign to Protect Rural England’s (CPRE) engagement on HS2 and was the only person permitted to petition against HS2 legislation regarding its climate change impacts commented:

“HS2 was proposed on the back of the momentous Climate Change Act 2008. Following the Government making a historic commitment to deliver net zero emissions, it’s time to reboot HS2’s carbon case in time for the scheme’s tenth anniversary.

“Achieving net zero will require big changes to the way we travel. Longer journeys are the hardest to decarbonise, which is why we need to make rail the longer distance travel mode of choice. Only HS2 can deliver the capacity and journey time savings to shift many more people out of cars and planes by the 2030s, without causing a decade of disruption to our existing train services.

“The challenges of achieving net zero in the transport sector, now the biggest single source of carbon emissions, needs to be at the top of the next Government’s in-tray. Failing to join up difficult – and long delayed – decisions to tackle air and road emissions with its response to the Oakervee Review would be a huge own goal. Failing to deliver HS2 and maximise its carbon benefits could jeopardise achieving climate-friendly transport for another generation.”

Jim Steer, Director, High Speed Rail Industry Leaders, said:

“The report makes clear the fundamental role that HS2 has to play in the UK reaching net zero. The fact that HS2 is already out performing its carbon targets is demonstrative of the industry’s commitment to making HS2 the greenest major infrastructure project the country has ever seen.”

You can access the report here:  HS2 Towards a Zero Carbon Future Report Nov 19