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UK must accelerate transition to zero emission vehicles, says Aldersgate Group

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The Government must provide greater clarity on regulations, fiscal incentives and innovation support to put the UK at the forefront of the zero emission vehicle industry, says the Aldersgate Group.

The alliance of leaders from business, politics and civil society, has launched a new briefing, Driving Ambition, which sets out key business recommendations for rapidly cutting road transport emissions in the UK.

Nick Molho, executive director of the Aldersgate Group, said, “Significantly cutting emissions from road transport is both an urgent environmental imperative and a unique economic opportunity for the UK.

"We will only get there, however, if the Government provides much greater clarity on how vehicle emissions need to reduce in the 2020s, provides stable grant and tax incentives to drive consumer demand and stands ready to take the necessary measures to ensure that manufacturers play their part in meeting the public and business demand for clean vehicles.

“If we are to fully decarbonise transport by 2050, technological changes are only part of the picture.

"The Government also needs to plan ahead and consider the shifts in travel patterns and infrastructure needs that are required to improve the overall efficiency of the transport system, from passenger travel to freight transport.” 

To seize this economic and environmental opportunity, the Aldersgate Group urges the Government to:

  1. Drive consumer uptake of the cleanest vehicles by extending the plug-in car and van grants until such a time that electric vehicles reach cost parity with conventional cars, which is not expected to happen until the mid-2020s. The Government should also consider boosting demand further through fiscal incentives, including significant VAT cuts on the sale of zero emission vehicles;  
  2. Provide much greater clarity on how vehicle emissions are to reduce in the 2020s after the UK leaves the EU. This should include providing clarity on whether the UK will remain part of the current EU rules on car, van and HGV emission targets or whether the UK will develop its own framework to drive down emissions. The Government will also need to consider regulatory measures to tackle the limited supply of zero emission vehicles on the market, such as by introducing mandatory zero emission vehicles sales targets as a backstop.
  3. Deliver an affordable, efficient and reliable charging infrastructure by accelerating roll out of charging infrastructure to support 100% electric new car and van sales by 2030 and introducing standards on smart charging. Public funding to support charging infrastructure should be targeted where the market will not deliver such as in rural areas and should include offering guarantees against the unknown cost of connecting the chargers to the electricity grid to lower investment risk.
  4. Plan now for the future by looking at how the overall efficiency of the transport system can be improved. This should include planning long-term improvements to the accessibility, affordability and reliability of public transport (including working with cities and local authorities), encouraging a shift from road freight to rail, preparing for connected and autonomous vehicles, as well as facilitating disruptor businesses such as car sharing services. This will also require developing a sustainable future road tax system.

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