Pressure is mounting on the Government to bring forward its ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel engined cars and vans to 2030, which in many cases is just two fleet vehicle replacement cycles away.
The Government’s advisory Committee on Climate Change says in a new report that ministers’ emission reduction strategy is “off-track” across key areas, including transport, with reductions of the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of new vehicles falling well short of expectations.
Consequently the Government’s ambition to reach its target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 “must progress with far greater urgency”.
Central to achieving the target is to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans before the Government’s already announced date of 2040 and bring it forward to 2030 or 2035 at the very latest.
The Government’s ‘Road to Zero Strategy’. published last year. announced 2040 as the phase out deadline for the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans. However, the Committee says that is “too late to ensure the fleet is fully switched over to zero-emission vehicles by 2050 and fails to grasp the opportunity of electric vehicles that are expected to be cheaper to buy, cheaper to run and less polluting from before 2030”.
A sales ban on conventional vehicles being moved to 2030-2035 is recommended by the Committee as a priority for the next 12 months along with:
- Stronger incentives to purchase cleaner vehicles, including the use of ‘fiscal instruments’
- Plans for the roll-out of zero-emission HGVs.
The calls for ‘greater urgency’ is, according to the Committee, due to a lack of progress over several years that has contributed to surface transport new being the highest-emitting sector in the UK.
Reductions in new car and van CO2 emissions and electric car registrations are all tracking behind forecasted levels, while the distances vehicles are travelling collectively is rising, not least because of van deliveries caused by the internet shopping boom.
In 2018 the average CO2 emission figure of new cars sold in the UK was 124.5g/km, up from 121.1g/km in 2017, a 2.9% increase and the second consecutive annual rise. The increase was partly due to continuing growing demand for larger vehicles and a switch to petrol vehicles due to the well-publicised so-called ‘demonisation’ of diesel.
“Current purchasing trends are undermining new car and van emission targets and must be reversed,” said the Committee in its 2019 progress report to Parliament on ‘Reducing UK Emissions’.
It continues: “The need to switch the entire fleet of light-duty vehicles to ultra-low emission vehicles by 2050 means that by 2035, at the very latest, all sales of new cars and vans will need to be ultra-low emission vehicles. If possible, an earlier end to sales of petrol and diesel vehicles would be preferable (eg by 2030 is feasible). This means a rapid ramping up of the market share of electric vehicles, from 2.5% in 2018, during the 2020s.”
Lord Deben, Committee on Climate Change chairman, said: “The UK is the first major economy to set a net-zero emissions target and intends to host the world’s leaders at next year’s landmark climate conference (COP26). These are historic steps forward and position the UK at the forefront of the global low-carbon transition. But international ambition does not deliver domestic action. It’s time for the Government to show it takes its responsibilities seriously. Reducing emissions to net zero by 2050, requires real action by Government now.”