The government has set out its landmark Net Zero Strategy ahead of the COP26 summit, which kicks off in Glasgow next week.
The strategy details how the UK will deliver on its commitment to reach net zero emissions by 2050 by helping consumers and businesses transition to clean power. The shift to green energy should reduce the UK’s reliance on imported fossil fuels and protect consumers from global price spikes. A situation that is currently affecting the UK’s energy sector in profound ways.
Of most interest, however, are the transport-related aspects. We’ve cut through the noise to identify how the Government’s radical strategy will affect UK drivers.
According to the Government, their zero-emissions vehicle (ZEV) mandate will increase the number of zero-emission vehicles on UK roads and accelerate the transformation of road transport.
The mandate is designed to improve consumer choice and maximise the economic benefit of the transition by giving a clear signal to investors. This will deliver on the government’s commitment to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030, with all new cars and vans being fully zero-emission at the tailpipe from 2035.
Crucially, however, these plans will ‘work with the grain of consumer choice’, so no drivers will be required to scrap their current car. This will come as a relief for those not unable to transition to a zero-emission vehicle due to their driving lifestyle or financial position.
The Government’s plans pledge additional funding of £620 million for zero-emission vehicle grants and EV infrastructure, including funding for on-street residential charging.
With grants for off-street (driveway) home charge points set to end soon, this redirection of investment is a massive boost for drivers of EVs who live in flats or rent their property. That said, greater investment is required to get the UK’s charging infrastructure where it needs to be before 2030.
With the UK’s current energy crisis and the rapid increase in electric vehicles, there’s some concern about supply.
The Net Zero Strategy features additional measures to increase energy production and ensure the UK is sufficiently powered entirely by clean electricity by 2035. This includes the planned investment in a large-scale nuclear plant, ramping up offshore wind power with more onshore, solar, and other renewables, and moving towards floating offshore wind power, which is hoped to put the UK at the forefront of this new technology.
To alleviate supply issues in the short to medium term, from May 2022, new home charge points being installed to new or existing properties will need to feature a pre-configured restriction that prevents them from functioning between 8-11 am and 4-10 pm on weekdays.
It is hoped this will reduce pressure on the grid during peak demand times. Whether this will be enough to offset the rise in demand remains to be seen.
The move to zero-emission cars is already impacting government revenues. While the government didn’t address taxation in detail, it did say, “As we have stated in the Ten Point Plan and the Transport Decarbonisation Plan, we need to ensure that the taxation of motoring keeps pace with the change to electric vehicles to ensure that we can continue to fund the first-class public services and infrastructure that people and families across the UK expect.”
If the Government is going to make zero-emission driving an appealing prospect to drivers of fossil-fuelled vehicles, taxation will need to continue to favour zero-emission vehicles. Indeed, this is a key point of the Government’s Net Zero Strategy, with the document stating they will “ensure the biggest polluters pay the most for the transition through fair carbon pricing”.
It has been suggested that the Government might replace the current emissions-based road tax with road pricing or tolls. However, the complexity of collecting accurate mileage data from millions of UK drivers is a challenge. Potential solutions might include introducing GPS modules in cars or utilising the UK’s ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) camera system.
Ultimately, the message is clear: The UK is steamrolling towards a zero-emission future. For drivers caught up in the transition, it is a challenging but necessary change. We need to embrace zero-emission transport for the sake of future generations.
The signposting and investment outlined in the Government’s new Net Zero Strategy is encouraging and welcome, but we still have many miles to cover within a very short timeframe.
So what does this all mean for drivers today?
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Categories : Electric Car News