Zero emission by 2035 “huge challenge” for government says committee

Published:  19 May, 2021

Getting all new cars to be zero emission from 2035 will be a “huge challenge,” with consumer buy-in and matching charging infrastructure the biggest obstacles, a House of Commons committee has said.

In a report published today (Wednesday 19 May) the Public Accounts Committee has looked at the government’s intention to see new petrol and diesel car sale phased out by 2030 and for all new cars to be zero-emission from 2035. With just 11% of new car registrations for ultra-low emission cars in 2020, the Committee believes the government has “a mountain to climb” to push this all the way to 100% in 14 years.

Crucially, the report points out that the Departments will need to consider the skills and capabilities required to support the changeover in the UK car parc.

The Committee acknowledged that the number of charging points is increasing, but noted a great deal more will be needed to support the projected growth in electric cars.

Echoing its recent report on environmental taxes, which said the Treasury and HMRC seemed “stuck in a bygone era”, with a very specific emphasis on tax revenues rather than the way they must be used to encourage the shift to net zero, the committee points out that DfT and BEIS will need to do much more to consider practical application.

Commenting on the report, Meg Hillier MP, Chair of the Committee, said: The government has a mountain to climb to get to all new cars in the UK emitting zero carbon in the next 14 years: to convince consumers and make the cars appealing, to make the car industry environmentally and socially compliant, to build the necessary infrastructure to support this radical shift and possibly biggest of all, to wean itself off carbon revenues. Yet once again what we’ve got is a government throwing up a few signs around base camp - and no let-up in demand for oversized, petrol- guzzling vehicles.”

She added: “This isn’t about more targets with no plan behind them inevitably getting missed - it’s about averting the real-world challenges that are bearing down on all of us. The Government needs to get the country behind it and lead the way in the global race against climate change.”

Also commenting on the report, SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes said: “The automotive industry shares government’s ambition for an electric revolution, a transformation that has already begun. However, as the Public Accounts Committee has made clear, we need a comprehensive and holistic plan to get us there in time. That plan must convince consumers to make the switch, it must provide the incentives that make electric cars affordable for all, and it must ensure recharging is as easy as refuelling – which means a massive and rapid rollout of infrastructure nationwide. Now is the time for government to match its world-leading ambitions with a world-class policy package.”

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