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Government statistics suggest that the UK is on track to meet the EU’s 2015 CO2 target

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By Andy Eastlake, managing director, Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership

The LowCVP’s upcoming tenth anniversary provides us with the opportunity to reflect on progress over the last decade in cutting carbon from road transport .

Though only becoming the LowCVP’s managing director in April 2012, I have been involved with this agenda for over 25yrs and have supported the Partnership since its inception. While progress has at times seemed difficult, the last ten years have really been a roller-coaster ride and our first decade ends, I believe, with many grounds for optimism about the future.

At the outset our dual remit from government was to drive down carbon emissions from road transport and to stimulate UK business opportunities in the process. From a ‘big picture’ perspective, the centre-piece of the decade was the UK’s adoption of the Climate Change Act in 2008. The UK was the first country in the World to adopt legally binding carbon reduction targets. Action across all sectors including transport is being driven by the resulting Carbon Plan and Budgets and policy is supported at European level, for example through the ‘Cars and CO2’ regulations.

Through meeting many of our members over the last few months I have been struck by the number of very positive messages from all areas of our broad stakeholder constituency. For example, the latest government statistics suggest that the UK is on track to meet the EU’s 2015 CO2 target (130g/km) for new cars in the next quarter.  The publication of our report on the heavy duty vehicle market has already motivated further initiatives and the study of pathways for fuels and energy used in transport is promoting useful informed debate.

Moreover, as 2012 ends, the UK motor industry is in better shape than for some years. There have been significant investments in UK low carbon automotive from Nissan, Vauxhall, Toyota, JLR and many others. The UK recently became the second largest car market in Europe and there are strong signs that this country has become one of the main ‘go to’ places for low carbon investments in this sector. This, I believe, is the result of some clear and – relatively – consistent policy signals (tax, subsidies and support) which are underpinned by the Climate Act and provide the long-term certainty that investors need.

Doubts will occasionally creep in and there is still much to do, of course, but the LowCVP will be working in its second decade to help ensure that the ‘virtuous circle’ of policy consistency->lower emissions->low carbon investment continues.

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