At the risk of getting too excited about a government green initiative before all the details have emerged, it seems worthwhile to give the Low Carbon Transition Plan announced yesterday a cautious welcome.

For once a government green idea doesn’t hose down the car industry and the headline figure for all reductions in transport carbon at least looks realistic — all transport is going to be responsible for 20 per cent of the 34 per cent countrywide reduction by 2020.

Government sets emissions goals

So trucks, vans, buses and rail are going to have to do their share, too

According to the SMMT, the car-makers trade group, road transport emissions are going to have to come down 14 per cent, which should be a do-able figure over the next decade, given the amount of investment that’s ploughing into advanced powertrains.

There’s already been good progress, with the fleet average tailpipe emissions of new cars sold each year in Britain down from 190g/km in 1997 to 158g/km in 2008 — a 16 per cent cut. The current race is to get to the EU’s fleet average of 130g/km by 2015.