EV strategy: rapid recharge needed Contents

EV strategy: rapid recharge needed

Chapter 1: Introduction

1.The transition to electric vehicles (EVs) is integral to the Government’s efforts to meet the legally binding target of reaching net zero emissions by 2050.2 The Climate Change Committee (CCC), the independent advisory body to Government on emissions targets, referred to the full transition to electric vehicles as “one of the most important actions to achieve the UK’s Net Zero target.”3 Surface transport (which includes cars alongside other road vehicles and rail) remains the UK’s highest-emitting sector, contributing 23 per cent of total UK emissions.4 In 2021, passenger cars in the UK contributed 56.9 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions:

Table 1: Estimated UK greenhouse gas emissions from a range of sectors in 2021

Emissions category

Million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent

Passenger cars

56.9

Light duty vehicles

18.2

Buses

2.5

HGVs

21.4

Mopeds & Motorcycles

0.5

Railways

1.6

All surface transport

101.7

Total emissions across all UK sectors

426.5

Source: Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, ‘2021 UK greenhouse gas emissions: final figures: data tables’ (June 2023) Table 1.2: https://view.officeapps.live.com/op/view.aspx?src=https%3A%2F%2Fassets.publishing.service.gov.uk%2Fmedia%2F642337b32fa8480013ec0de4%2Ffinal-greenhouse-gas-emissions-tables-2021.xlsx&wd [accessed 29 January 2024]

2.We launched this inquiry in August 2023 to identify the main obstacles and barriers to a successful and equitable transition to the Government’s EV target for passenger vehicles and to make clear and targeted recommendations for change to meet that target. We examined a wide range of areas: the Government’s overall approach to and messaging around the transition; the electric vehicles market and process of acquiring an electric vehicle; the end-of-life disposal of electric vehicles; national and regional infrastructure and charging issues; and international perspectives and comparisons.

3.Our inquiry examined how the Government plans to achieve its deadlines for the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars, and for all new vehicles to be fully zero-emission at the exhaust.5 This will not only contribute to the UK’s carbon emissions reduction targets but also towards improving air quality and the consequent health benefits. We examined the costs, alongside the benefits, associated with the phase-out date, and worked to understand Government progress towards decarbonising car usage. We noted the crucial importance of decarbonising the grid underlying the case for the EV transition—this is discussed in further detail in later chapters. We also noted the importance of modal shift: encouraging wider behaviour change in transport towards more climate-friendly solutions and investing in the UK’s public transport network. Though our inquiry was targeted towards evaluating the Government’s progress on its EV targets for passenger vehicles, we consider this to be just one part of a broader necessary transition.

4.We took evidence from a wide range of witnesses, ranging from individual members of the public to major car manufacturers. We heard from key stakeholders involved in charging infrastructure—including chargepoint operators, local authorities, distribution network operators and the National Grid. We also took evidence from the insurance industry and car dealerships. This inquiry was also the focus for our Youth Engagement Programme with six schools and colleges across the UK.

5.During our inquiry, the Government changed its electric vehicles targets, with the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars pushed back from 2030 to 2035. We heard that this decision risked jeopardising investment and undermining public confidence.6 The CCC noted that the Government’s announcement was not accompanied by corresponding Government estimates of its effect on emissions, “nor with the evidence to back the Government’s assurance that the UK’s [net zero] targets will still be met.”7

6.However, the CCC subsequently found that due to the now-confirmed zero emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate, which will ensure that 80 per cent of new cars sold by 2030 will be zero emission at the exhaust, delaying the fossil car phase-out date to 2035 is expected to have “only a small direct impact on future emissions.”8 Under the ZEV Mandate, each year vehicle manufacturers are set a target as a percentage of their total annual sales that must be zero emission at the exhaust.9 Manufacturers that do not achieve the targets set out by the mandate must pay a fine of £15,000 per Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) passenger car that is sold outside of the target stipulated in the mandate, unless alternative mitigations are found through “a range of flexibilities including credits, banking, borrowing, trading, and conversion after which final compliance payments are a last resort”.10 The mandate was approved by Parliament in December 2023 as part of the Vehicle Emissions Trading Schemes Order 2023.11

7.Green Alliance analysis suggests that the ZEV mandate alone will deliver almost 14 per cent of all the required emissions savings over the fifth carbon budget period (2028–2032), “making it the biggest single policy intervention in the net zero strategy”.12 However, as set out in Chapter 2, pushing back the start date risked undermining public confidence in the transition. The key policy challenges remain, and finding solutions remains crucial. As Transport & Environment UK, a clean transport NGO and research group, told us, delaying the targets “will not resolve any of the issues that need addressing”.13

8.We are grateful to all those who participated in our inquiry. We hope our findings will support the Government, industry and local authorities to address key challenges and facilitate a smooth transition to electric vehicles over the next decade.

Structure of this report

9.This report is structured as follows:


2 This was legislated for in June 2019. See: The Climate Change Act 2008 (2050 Target Amendment) Order 2019 (SI 2019/1056).

3 Climate Change Committee, The UK’s transition to electric vehicles (December 2020), p 2: https://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/The-UKs-transition-to-electric-vehicles.pdf [accessed 7 November 2023]

4 Climate Change Committee, Progress in reducing emissions: 2023 Report to Parliament (June 2023), p 107: https://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/06/Progress-in-reducing-UK-emissions-2023-Report-to-Parliament-1.pdf [accessed 8 November 2023]

5 Department for Transport, Office for Low Emission Vehicles, Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, The Rt Hon Sir Alok Sharma KCMG MP and The Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP, ‘Government takes historic step towards net-zero with end of sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030’, (18 November 2020): https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-takes-historic-step-towards-net-zero-with-end-of-sale-of-new-petrol-and-diesel-cars-by-2030 [accessed 12 December 2023]

6 Q 71 (Dr Chris Pateman-Jones) and Climate Change Committee, ‘CCC assessment of recent announcements and developments on Net Zero’, (12 October 2023): https://www.theccc.org.uk/2023/10/12/ccc-assessment-of-recent-announcements-and-developments-on-net-zero/ [accessed 1 December 2023]

7 Climate Change Committee, ‘CCC assessment of recent announcements and developments on Net Zero’ (12 October 2023): https://www.theccc.org.uk/2023/10/12/ccc-assessment-of-recent-announcements-and-developments-on-net-zero/ [accessed 1 December 2023]

8 Ibid.

9 Department for Transport, ‘Zero emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate consultation: summary of responses and joint government response’, (25 October 2023): https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/a-zero-emission-vehicle-zev-mandate-and-co2-emissions-regulation-for-new-cars-and-vans-in-the-uk/outcome/zero-emission-vehicle-zev-mandate-consultation-summary-of-responses-and-joint-government-response [accessed 14 December 2023]

10 The Vehicle Emissions Trading Schemes Order 2023 (SI 2023/1394) and Department for Transport, ‘Zero emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate consultation: summary of responses and joint government response’, (25 October 2023): https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/a-zero-emission-vehicle-zev-mandate-and-co2-emissions-regulation-for-new-cars-and-vans-in-the-uk/outcome/zero-emission-vehicle-zev-mandate-consultation-summary-of-responses-and-joint-government-response [accessed 23 January 2024]

11 HC Deb, 4 December 2023, cols 174–176

12 Written evidence from Green Alliance (ELV0099)

13 Written evidence from Transport & Environment UK (ELV0035)




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