For change to happen, the responsibility needs to be shared - with motorists, manufacturers and Government all having a contribution to make.
We have seen car ownership grow exponentially over 20 years. Today, ownership of a motorcar is seen as evermore essential to modern living, giving individuals and families a freedom of which they are highly protective. At the same time, drivers know that change has to happen if vehicle emissions are to be reduced to the levels that are believed to be sustainable.
RAC believes we need to encourage drivers to start thinking about both their driving behaviour behind the wheel and the car they are driving.
While the Government concentrates on public awareness, transport policy and fiscal measures to encourage change, there are steps motorists can take to reduce the environmental impact of their driving.
Motorists feel if they were trained to drive in a more fuel efficient or environmentally friendly way, then this would have a major impact on making driving more sustainable in the future.
Ultimately though, there is a limit as to how far drivers can afford to go, and they have made it clear it all depends on how much it will cost them. So whilst there is an acceptance of the need to act, there is also a very strong sense that the average British motorist feels they are already paying enough. For many, buying a green car, for example, is simply beyond their means. For most therefore, it's a question of being greener, rather than being green.
Employers have a vital role to play in creating the conditions that enable employees to be greener. Over half of all car emissions are the result of people commuting to or in the course of their work.
With the need to reduce emissions becoming ever more critical, working from home may yet become seen as a socially responsible, rather than an unusual thing to do.
There are some examples such as where car parking is only available to those who have shared a car to work, others where companies have collected employees by bus.
Manufacturers are working on a range of options for the future but there appears to be little agreement over what is, or could be, the solution. Each manufacturer is concentrating on what they believe will be the right answer, which may also give them competitive advantage.
But, just as there is a lack of unanimity in the scientific world about what needs to be done to stop global warming, so there is a lack of unanimity amongst vehicle manufacturers as to which route will yield the best result.
Historically, global manufacturers have been unable to agree about whether diesel or petrol is "better", with European manufacturers seeing diesel far more favourably than their American and Japanese counterparts.
Manufacturers will have to provide the technical solutions for the future. The King Report was very clear on this. Even though these may not yet exist, the hope is that by the time oil runs out viable alternatives will have been developed.
It is clear that whilst environmental issues remain important to motorists, for now they have been replaced by financial concerns.
This is understandable at a time when motorists are faced with so much pressure on their household budgets. It is therefore imperative, when delivering the environmental message, we ensure it is related to the financial impact it will have on households.
Motorists call on Government to strike the right balance between incentives and penalties, and to ensure that any new green taxes should be revenue neutral. RAC is calling for an overhaul of the motoring tax system. At present, we believe every new tax or reform of the tax system that comes into force is simply a sticking plaster over the problem. A review of the long-term challenges ahead is required in order to find a more permanent solution.
What about alternative modes of transports? RAC has regularly called for greater investment in public transport, and in questioning the sustainability of our current car use, this has never been more important. The Government needs to provide an upfront fully integrated transport system, before it can expect motorists to seriously consider using it. RAC believes this can work as a complement to the car, rather than simply instead of it. Motorists cannot comprehend life without their cars, and why should they? Rather than thinking of cars and public transport as separate, we need to start thinking about them as a joined up entity.
Motorists also believe Government has a role to play in providing better driving test training – and post driving test training – on how to drive in a more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly way.
For motorists to be "greener drivers", they need access to straightforward, actionable information, which is specific to their individual circumstances, from trustworthy sources.
Appendix A: about this Report
Changes to VED bands