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CCC report calls for 'Net Zero' UK commitment, acceleration of EV uptake

Thu 02 May 2019 | Back to news list

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has published a landmark report which calls for the UK to adopt a world-leading target of Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The report calls for the target for electric cars introduction to be brought forward and for the accelerated introduction of low carbon technologies for other harder-to-electrify vehicle types, such as long-range trucks.

The CCC says that a net-zero GHG target for 2050 will deliver on the commitment that the UK made by signing the Paris Agreement. It says that the target is achievable with known technologies, alongside improvements in people’s lives, and within the expected economic cost that Parliament accepted when it legislated the existing 2050 target for an 80% reduction from 1990.

The Committee has recommended an earlier target for Scotland (net-zero by 2045), pointing to Scotland’s greater relative capacity to remove emissions than the UK as a whole. The Scottish Government was quick to accept the challenge. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed that the Scottish Government will legislate on the 2045 target. For Wales, the Committee recommends a 95% reduction target by 2050.

The Committee warns, however, that Net Zero will only be possible if clear, stable and well-designed policies to reduce emissions further are introduced across the economy without delay. It says that current policy is insufficient to meet even the existing targets.

Road transport is highlighted as one of the more challenging areas in terms of decarbonisation. In its Technical Report the CCC proposes a 'further ambition' scenario in which the ending of sales of non-zero emission cars, vans and motorcycles is brought forward to 2035 at the latest (from the Government's proposed deadline of 2040). It says that regulatory approval of non-zero emission vehicles limited to 2050 at the latest.

It says that cars and vans can switch, cost-effectively, to electric vehicles and that buses can also change to electricity and hydrogen fuel. The report acknowledges the challenges in decarbonising longer range trucks saying that HGVs should transition to zero emission options including hydrogen and electrification throughout the 2030s but that strong efforts are needed now to determine the best solutions. 

The CCC says that electric vehicles are likely to be cost saving compared to petrol and diesel vehicles before 2030. On this basis, the cumulative costs of passenger transport in the UK from 2018 to 2050 may be lower if the end to sales of cars and vans with petrol and diesel engines is brought forward to 2030, compared to 2040. The chart above shows the cumulative costs (vehicles, fuels  - excluding taxation - and infrastructure) of cars and vans given a decision to end sales in 2030 and one to end them in 2040.

The report says: "it would be desirable to aim for 100% of new car and van sales to be electric by the earlier date, but there is uncertainty about the ability of car manufacturers to supply this volume of electric vehicles".

The report adds that demand for transport can be reduced by encouraging walking, cycling and the use of public transport instead of car travel and by supporting freight operators to make improvements in logistics.

Including 'further ambition' measures, the Committee says that all these measures combined can reduce road transport emissions by 98% by 2050, compared to a 1990 baseline. 

The Committee says that the UK could receive an industrial boost as it leads the way in low-carbon products and services including electric vehicles, finance and engineering, carbon capture and storage and hydrogen technologies with potential benefits for exports, productivity and jobs.

Speaking at the report launch at One Birdcage Walk, Westminster, Lord Deben, Chairman of the Committee on Climate Change, said that Britain led the world into an industrial revolution powered by fossil fuels and that it can also lead the world out of fossil fuel dependence. "This is not going to be easy, but it's a challenge we cannot avoid...and we have to start now."

Commenting on the report, LowCVP's Managing Director Andy Eastlake said: "This report comes at an extraordinary moment in our moves to tackle climate change. The Extinction Rebellion and 'school strike' protests as well as yesterday's cross-party agreement to announce a 'climate emergency' have helped to pave the way for the announcement of the Committee's call for Net Zero.

"This is not going to be easy and while government has a critical role to play it cannot deliver this target alone. Meeting the targets outlined today calls for an unprecedented coming together and a step change in ambition of all of us in this shared endeavour; individuals, community groups, businesses, civil society in all its forms, as well as government.

"Only through working together, in partnership can these vital goals be met."

Stop press: LowCVP's Managing Director Andy Eastlake appeared on Radio 5 Live Breakfast this morning, responding to the road transport-related aspects of the report. Listen again at at 2:43:00 via this link.  

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