UK Government’s 2040 Zero Emissions Plan Needs to be Expedited

Electric Vehicle Flow Battery

Advisers say that the UK Government’s electric car targets need to be brought forward, warning the current plan is too tame. 

The sale of new petrol and diesel cars are to be banned by 2040 under the UK Government’s plan to tackle climate change. Instead, buyers will have to opt for either an electric (EVs) or hydrogen powered vehicle.

However, advisers are urging the Government to shorten this deadline by a decade, saying that drivers will benefit if electric cars become mainstream sooner.

According to the Committee on Climate Change, the cost of electric cars will be equivalent to that of petrol or diesel vehicles by 2024-5. However, for this to work logistically the rollout of more charging points will have to be accelerated significantly to meet increasing demand.

Critics of the Government’s plan have highlighted that, under the current plan, petrol and diesel vehicles will still be on the roads after 2050 – the date by which the Government says it will have reduced carbon emissions from all sources to zero.

The committee has put forward 2030 as a more appropriate date for the ban, as it anticipates that the price of electric vehicles will have come down enough by then to make the switch attractive to drivers.

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Along with a lower purchase cost, those who opt to switch will also benefit from lower costs in terms of fuel, running and servicing, the committee says.

Members have raised concerns that the new date may not be achievable due to the limited availability of cobalt in the world, which is needed to manufacture the vehicle’s batteries.

Therefore, it is likely they will suggest that the deadline for new fossil fuel-powered cars should be no later than 2035. Aside from the cobalt issue, an adequate amount of charging points has been one of the most common barriers cited to the adoption of EVs.

Mary Creagh, chair of the environment audit committee, said: “Ministers are useless. They seem to think the market will miraculously provide charging point and the government has no job to regulate charging points.”

Edmund King, AA president, is sceptical about a 2030 deadline, saying that if manufacturers could find enough resources, EVs could undercut diesel and petrol cars towards the end of 2020. But, he said: “On balance, we feel that the 2040 target is about right and still challenging for industry and governments.”

The Scottish Government’s switch-over target is 2030 – a goal backed by insurance group LV. It said: “The UK is in a fortunate position in that motor manufacturers have already matched demand with a production line stacked with electric car and plug-in hybrid models, as the clamour from consumers’ changes to cleaner motoring.”

According to a source at the Department of Transport (DoT), the UK Government may consider bringing the deadline forward if drivers were adopting EVs more quickly.

He said that the DoT is in talks with the Treasury to possibly subsidise car charging points in people’s homes. However, he added that it would make more economic sense to deploy a comprehensive network of public charging points across the UK.



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