In its Reducing UK Emissions Progress Report to Parliament, which documents progress in the 12 months since the UK pledged to be net zero by 2050, the CCC reports that whilst there has been progress, more is needed to enable the country to stay on-course to achieve the ambitious Net Zero target. Indeed, in its opening gambit, the CCC states:
“There were important new announcements on transport, buildings, industry, energy supply, agriculture and land use. But these steps do not yet measure up to meet the size of the Net Zero challenge and we are not making adequate progress in preparing for climate change.”
However, the delay of the UN Climate Summit in Glasgow (COP 26) to 2021, thanks to coronavirus, and the UK's presidency of the G7 during that time, offer opportunities to play catch-up. In fact, the post-Covid world is the best time to put forward strong policies to decarbonise transport. Specifically, shifting the way people get around and facilitating the mass rollout of low carbon vehicles – e.g. EVs.
The report is unequivocal in its call to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars, as well as potentially penalising those that are currently on the road. It reaffirms its commitment to bringing forward the ban on new sales to 2035, but also states that; “The Committee's assessment is that the date should be brought forward to 2032 at the latest, and backed by detailed policy arrangements to deliver it.”
On the company car side of the market, it recommends car tax reforms, alongside purchase grants and preferential tax treatment – providing a strong incentive to purchase EVs. It also suggests that car tax (i.e. Vehicle Excise Duty) could be raised to discourage people from buying cars that produce higher levels of emissions.
Boiling that down into plain English, the CCC wants the government to ban petrol and diesel cars sooner, incentivise the purchase of new EVs and penalise people who stick with gas-guzzlers.
A study conducted by energy switching specialists, Uswitch, shows that compared to many other developed countries in Europe and further afield, charging an EV here is comparatively cost-effective. Uswitch looked at the average cost per kWh for 50 nations around the world, as well as other measures such as average miles per driver and miles per charge, to work out a comparable cost.
In the study, the UK ranks as the 10th most expensive country – which sounds bad, but is actually pretty competitive when compared to some of our closest neighbours. Driving 10,000 miles in an EV here would cost around £324.39 – cheaper than countries such as Denmark (top spot at £501.34), Germany (£486.59), Italy (£398.12), Ireland (£383.37), Portugal (£383.37), Spain (£353.88), Austria (£339.14) and Japan (£324.39).
Speaking of the study, Sarah Broomfield, energy expert at Uswitch said: “The use of electric vehicles has clear environmental benefits but for many consumers, the choice to move to EVs can be hindered by perceptions about how much it will cost to charge.
“This research shows that, while the costs are not insignificant, the UK is in a strong position compared to countries like Denmark where the price of electricity makes the cost of a charge so much higher.
Despite £324.49 being a comparatively high cost to charge when compared to other markets, it is a massive saving compared to running a regular petrol car. Typically, drivers can expect to pay well in excess of £1000 to travel the equivalent distance on fossil fuels, demonstrating just how cost-effective EVs are in day-to-day use.
With regards the CCC report, it's clear that the Covid-19 crisis has impacted progress. There's also got to be a certain amount of blame laid at the feet of a government preoccupied with other political hot potatoes rather than ushering in new, pro-active environmental policy. That said the moves that have been made already by the government to stimulate and support the EV market are to be applauded. In terms of reasons for people to switch to EV power, the Uswitch study simply compounds what we already know – whilst the initial outlay is higher, the real rewards can be felt during ownership.