The UK's Department for Transport (DfT), has announced a GBP20m programme to procure low carbon vans for public sector fleets.

The programme coordinators will work with vehicle suppliers to bring low carbon vans on to the market sooner than might otherwise be possible, thereby kick-starting the market for such vehicles.

Vans are being targeted because there is strong evidence that while overall CO2 emissions from passenger cars have stopped rising, and even started to fall, CO2 emissions from vans have been rising.

According to Michael Roberts, director of business environment at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), and a member of the Commission for Integrated Transport, emissions from vans have risen 50% since 1990.

Launching the programme in London Yesterday, Transport Minister, Jim Fitzpatrick, said: "Vans account for around 15% of carbon emissions from road transport, but currently there are no mass market low carbon models on offer to the UK van buyer - although the technology to create them exists. By using the public sector's considerable purchasing power, we aim to give investors and manufacturers confidence in the existence of a market for lower carbon vans, to encourage them to bring them to market more quickly than they would do otherwise. This could have a big impact in cutting carbon emissions on our roads."

Should initial trials be successful, an additional GBP30m has been earmarked to be used to develop the programme further.

Initial public sector participants are expected to include the Metropolitan (London) Police, Environment Agency, Transport for London, the Royal Mail, HM Revenue and Customs and the Government Car and Despatch Agency.