Our current campaign – is to rapidly accelerate the number of electric vehicles on the road.
Surface transport is the largest source of CO2 in the UK today, at 115 million tonnes. That’s 23% of all the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2018. The UK is off track to meet its 2025 and 2030 targets, and with limited cuts that can still be made in electricity, and other areas being much harder to reduce emissions from, transport must step up to combat climate change.
Firstly, we’re calling on the government to set a binding target to phase out all sales of cars and vans that run on petrol and diesel, including hybrids, by 2030. The announcement of February 2020 that the government was considering moving the current 2040 target ahead to 2035 is most welcome, but this is still subject to consultation and to change. 2030 reduces emissions twice as fast as a 2035 target, which is the minimum target required rather than being the maximum level of ambition. Projections show that such a ban would mean over two thirds of cars and vans on the road would be fully electric by 2030, with an almost complete phase out of fossil fuel powered vehicles by 2035.
Secondly, in the short term fiscal incentives for electric vehicles must be maintained and expanded. The government should extend the plug in car grant to 2025, and investigate other options for greater electric vehicle incentives, such as cutting VAT for electric vehicles in the short term, and increasing the value of the plug in car grant. Automotive companies should also be subject to rules to ensure a certain number of sales of their vehicles are electric per year.
Third, charging infrastructure must keep pace with this rollout, as well as the electrical grid getting reinforcement infrastructure that it will need to the additional demand. We propose new annual targets for charging infrastructure in line with a 2030 ban on conventional vehicles, taking advantage in particular of rapid and ultra-rapid charging for long distance journeys. We also want to see further collaboration between the government, National Grid and Ofgem for the scale of funding and infrastructure required for a reinforced grid.
Fourth, battery electric or hydrogen fuel cell Heavy Ground Vehicles (or HGVs) should have a clear plan for future deployment in the coming years. This should include large scale trials of electric and fuel cell HGVs in selective fleets, as well as greater fiscal incentives for purchasing alternative HGVs.
These policies have multiple benefits in addition to rapidly reducing emissions across the 2020s. 40,000 deaths a year are exacerbated by air pollution across the UK. A 2030 ban could reduce air pollution by 68% by the same date, saving lives and improving all our health, as well as £300mn in NHS costs. 93% of the public think that EVs have advantages over their petrol and diesel equivalents.
Over 100,000 people could be employed in producing electric cars by 2030 if the ban is brought forward and could reinvigorate the British car industry, including through new gigafactories. As electricity is cheaper than petrol and diesel, car owners can spend six times less on fuel. Electric cars and vans will be as cheap to buy as conventional equivalents by the mid-2020s. A 2030 petrol and diesel ban would add £7bn to the economy directly, and be save £20bn compared to a 2040 ban. This doesn’t include a £2bn saving from reducing oil imports, with oil imports halving between now and 2035 if this ban is implemented, increasing energy security.
National Grid has stated that it could integrate a 2030 petrol and diesel ban into the existing system without difficulties. Smart charging of electric vehicles can balance the electrical grid, delivering £1.7bn in benefit. Car manufacturers and other vital businesses work closer to 5-8 year timescales, so a 2030 or earlier ban will impact on future investment decisions within the industry. New combustion engines that can only be sold for a few years or not at all in one of Europe’s largest car markets will not be a profitable business model.