Rapid reductions in transport emissions will only be achieved by the Government doing more than just promoting electric cars, ministers have been warned.
A report from the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) accused Britain of lagging behind other countries in the use of carbon-free modes of travel.
The report looked at 500 international studies and concluded that the only way to have a long-term impact on emissions was to alter travel patterns so that fewer trips relied on the car.
It said that these policies must go hand in hand with less popular measures such as parking restrictions, road and fuel prices, and reallocation of space away from cars, in order to have maximum effect.
The suggested moves would be particularly unwelcome in the current economic climate, in which hard-pressed motorists are already forced to hunt for cheaper car insurance and change down to less powerful cars in a bid to save cash.
But the report said that small improvements could be made by revamping bus, cycling and walking infrastructure or implementing car sharing or school travel plans.
Dr Jillian Anable, head of transport research at UKERC, said: "We welcome the Government's recent announcements on low-carbon vehicles, but it needs to do much more than support electric cars.
"Without effective policies to manage demand for travel, emission cuts through vehicle technology will be made much more difficult and may come too late."
© Press Association 2009