Emissions strategy met with dissatisfaction

July 11 2018  

Emissions strategy met with dissatisfaction
Environmentalists and sustainable transport campaigners are disappointed with a new Government strategy to reduce emissions from road transport which, they argue, does not show enough ambition.
 
The Road to Zero strategy includes an objective for at least half of new cars to be ultra low emission by 2030, and to see a large scale roll out of supporting electric charging infrastructure.
 
But some have expressed frustration that the document includes no commitment to bring forward the previously announced target to end the sale of new conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040.
 
“A 2040 target is already weak by international standards, and should be a decade earlier to deliver any incentive to the car industry and make a dent in transport emissions,” said Greenpeace clean air campaigner Morten Thaysen.
 
Campaign for Better Transport sustainable transport campaigner Bridget Fox said: “While the commitment to invest in and promote electric charging points is welcome, overall the strategy fails to match the urgency of the situation. This means another generation will pass before we have real action on cutting harmful CO2 emissions and cleaning up deadly vehicle pollution.
 
“Interim 2030 targets for zero emission cars and vans are a small step forward, but not good enough. We need action now: ending all sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030 is the latest that should be acceptable.”
 
Specific measures announced in the Road to Zero strategy include the launch of a £400M Charging Infrastructure Investment Fund and a push for charge points to be installed in newly built homes and in new lamp posts.
 
A £40M programme will be created to develop and trial low cost wireless and on street charging infrastructure, and an Electric Vehicle Energy Taskforce will launch to plan for increases in demand on energy infrastructure. 
 
An extension has also been announced to the existing plug in car and van grants, while up to £500 will be made available for electric vehicle owners to put a charge point in their home.
 
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said the strategy sets out a clear path for Britain to be a “world leader in the zero emission revolution”.
 
However sector commentators have picked up on some notable omissions from the document. Greener Journeys chief executive Claire Haigh said: “It’s disheartening to see that having promised to take bold action to reduce emissions and solve the UK’s air pollution crisis, the Government has failed to take the necessary tough decisions. It has still done nothing to reduce the sheer number of vehicles on the road.
 
“We urgently need measures to encourage a switch from car to public transport,” she added.
 
Cycling UK’s policy director Roger Geffen said: “It is extraordinary that the Government can publish a strategy on low emission vehicles and ignore electric bicycles, while saying nothing new about cycling more generally. E-bikes are a fantastic solution for enabling a lot more people to cycle.”
 
The Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership’s managing director Andy Eastlake was more positive about the strategy. “There’s every reason to believe that the ‘Road to Zero’ objectives can not only be achieved, but significantly surpassed,” he said. “Effectively zero emissions by 2040 is 22 years away so we welcome the push for most of the fleet to be ultra low emission vehicles by 2030.”
 
He added: “This revolution in mobility and in the technologies we use to get us around can only be achieved if people – Government, businesses and householders – work together and pull in the same direction. The strategy helps by focusing us all on where we need to get to and, importantly, also includes some interim steps.”

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