Proposals to ban Sunday driving and cut motorway speed to 64mph limit to save oil

An organization working with the UK Government to advise on climate policy has suggested banning Sunday driving in cities and cutting the speed limit on motorways to reduce reliance on oil in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine and high prices.

The ideas are among 10 measures proposed by the International Energy Agency (IEA) to cut global oil demand by 2.7m barrels a day in four months.

The IEA advises member states on energy policy. Its 31 member states include the UK, Ireland, the USA and much of the EU.

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It is suggesting cutting motorway speed limits by 6mph, down to 64mph in the UK, and bringing in car-free Sundays in major cities.

Actions suggested by the IEA could reduce oil demand and cut prices. By following the IEA’s suggestions -which also include working from home for three days a week, cheaper public transport, and more car sharing – member states could cut their reliance on oil to the equivalent of all the cars in China not using fuel, argues the IEA.

Cutting motorway limits by 6pmph could save 290,000 barrels of oil a day from cars and 140,000 from lorries. Working from home for three days a week could save 500,000 barrels. Car-free Sundays could save 380,000 barrels, the IEA argues.

“As a result of Russia ‘s appalling aggression against Ukraine, the world may well be facing its biggest oil supply shock in decades, with huge implications for our economies and societies,” said IEA executive director Fatih Birol.

“IEA Member Countries have already stepped in to support the global economy with an initial release of millions of barrels of emergency oil stocks, but we can also take action on demand to avoid the risk of a crippling oil crunch.

“Our 10-Point Plan shows this can be done through measures that have already been tested and proven in multiple countries.”

The proposals came ahead of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Spring Statement. In the statement announced on Wednesday, a 5p per liter cut in fuel duty was confirmed by the chancellor. The reduction will be implemented at 6pm on Wednesday and will last until March 2023.

RAC head of policy Nicholas Lyes described the Chancellor’s 5% fuel cut as “a drop in the ocean” as it will “only take prices back to where they were just over a week ago”.

He said: “There’s also a very real risk retailers could just absorb some or all of the duty cut themselves by not lowering their prices.

“If this proves to be the case it will be dire for drivers.”

AA president Edmund King welcomed the cut but expressed concern that “the benefit will be lost unless retailers pass it on”.

He also called for prices to be lowered due to the “substantial reduction in wholesale road fuel costs” since March 9.

“The road fuel trade shouldn’t leave the Treasury to do the heavy lifting when cutting motoring costs,” he added.

Paul Tuohy, chief executive at pressure group Campaign for Better Transport, said the cut will “do little to help those on the lowest incomes, who may not even own a car”.

He went on: “Rail fares have risen at a higher rate than fuel costs, and bus fares have risen twice as fast, yet public transport passengers have not been given any help with the cost-of-living crisis.”

The IEA’s 10 point plan to cut oil use

As a member state, the UK Government is advised by the IEA. But it does not have to follow its recommendations.

Below are the IEA’s 10 suggestions for reducing oil consumption.

  • Reduce speed limits on highways by at least 10 km / h (6mph)
  • Work from home up to three days a week where possible
  • Car-free Sundays in cities
  • Make use of public transport cheaper and incentivise micromobility, walking and cycling
  • Alternate private car access to roads in large cities
  • Increase car sharing and adopt practices to reduce fuel use
  • Promote efficient driving for freight trucks and delivery of goods
  • Using high-speed and night trains instead of planes where possible
  • Avoid business air travel where alternative options exist
  • Reinforce the adoption of electric and more efficient vehicles

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