‘Climate emergency’ is key vehicle battleground for major parties in general election

Tackling the ‘climate emergency’ forms a key battleground for the major political parties in the run-up to the December 12 general election.

The manifesto commitments by both the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats are more radical than those outlined by the Conservative Party.

However, while all three main national political parties have committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but the speed at which the transition to electric vehicles and the outlawing of the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans occurs is different.

The Conservative Party is committed to reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 with investment in clean energy solutions and green infrastructure to reduce carbon emissions and pollution.

Following up Transport Secretary Grant Shapps’ Conservative Party 2019 Conference commitment to make driving an electric car “the norm” and to look at bringing forward to 2035 its previous commitment to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040, the manifesto says that it will consult on the earliest date they can be phased out.

Meanwhile, the Labour Party reiterates its 2019 Conference promise to end the sale of new internal combustion engine vehicles by 2030, 10 years earlier than previously stated by the outgoing Conservative Government

The Party, as also outlined at the Conference, wants to accelerate the transition of public sector car fleets to zero-emissions vehicles and by leading an ‘electric car revolution’ urge all car fleets to ‘go 100% electric’ by 2025.

The Liberal Democrats plan to reduce emissions from surface transport to near-zero by 2045 with the transition to electric vehicles a key goal. The Party in its manifesto has promised to ensure that by 2030 every new car and small van sold is electric.

In other manifesto commitments, the Conservative’s, if forming the next Government, will in the first post-election Budget prioritise investing in a national plug-in vehicle charging network with £600 million promised over a six-year period in addition to the recent launch of a £400 million fund to help develop rapid charging infrastructure points for electric vehicles.

Additionally, as part of a ‘transport revolution’, the manifesto promises that the Conservative Party will:

  • Launch the ‘biggest-ever’ pothole-filling programme, as part of a National Infrastructure Strategy, with the ‘major investment in roads’ ensuring that potholes are much less likely to appear in the future. A costings analysis released with the manifesto highlights £500 million a year being spent over the four years 2020/21 to 2023/24 on local roads maintenance including pothole filling and investment to reduce new potholes
  • Support commuter cycling routes, so that more people can cycle safely to work
  • Support ‘clean’ transport to ensure ‘clean’ air, as well as setting strict new laws on air quality.

The Labour Party has promised ‘a green industry revolution’, in its manifesto and said it would:

  • Invest in electric vehicle charging infrastructure and in electric community car clubs
  • Adopt a ‘vision zero’ approach to UK road safety, striving for zero deaths and serious injuries
  • Review all tolled crossings.

At the Party Conference it also said it would provide ‘certainty’ on company car benefit-in-kind tax by maintaining the existing schedule for pure electric vehicles at 2% beyond 2022/23 and waive for two years the £320 Vehicle Excise Duty surcharge on electric vehicles with a list price above £40,000 purchased for fleet use.

The Liberal Democrats in its manifesto has also pledged to:

  • Accelerate the rapid take-up of electric vehicles by reforming vehicle taxation, cutting VAT on electric vehicles to 5% and increasing the rate of installation of charging points, including residential on-street points and ultra-fast chargers at service stations
  • Extend ultra-low emission zones, similar to that in London, to 10 more towns.

The three parties’ manifestos can be viewed at: https://vote.conservatives.com/our-plan, https://labour.org.uk/manifesto/ and https://www.libdems.org.uk/plan


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