18 Jun 19

UK commits to zero carbon economy as EV charging locations overtake conventional fuel stations

Outgoing British Prime Minister Theresa May has committed the UK to eliminating carbon emissions by 2050 – the first G7 nation to announce 100% decarbonisation goal in the wake of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

The announcement comes as the number of public electric vehicle charging locations exceeds the number of conventional refuelling stations across the country and sales of pure electric vehicle continue to grow.

An accelerating transition to electric vehicles is seen as a key component in the UK’s emissions reduction strategy as fleets and consumers continue to cite a shortage of public charging points as a major obstacle to switching to EVs.

Theresa May will stand down as Prime Minister when the governing Conservative Party elects her successor in July and, having failed to deliver Brexit, May is keen to establish some concrete legacies before leaving office.

Transport, farming and industry

Downing Street has introduced an amendment to the 2008 Climate Change Act which commits the UK to reduce carbon emissions by 100% by 2050. The original target was an 80% reduction by 2050. The proposal does not require a parliamentary vote and should be passed into law within weeks.

This means that carbon emissions from transport, farming and industry must either be eliminated or fully offset by tree planting and other carbon capture initiatives before 2050.

Controversially, the net zero pledge does not yet extend to international shipping or aviation and carbon credits may also be used to offset emissions in order to reach net zero.

The UK’s Committee on Climate Change issued a stark warning about the need to set more ambitious emissions reductions targets in May.

Welcoming the government’s commitment, CCC Chairman Lord Deben said: “This is just the first step. The target must now be reinforced by credible UK policies, across government, inspiring a strong response from business, industry and society as a whole. The Committee on Climate Change will now move to the task of providing advice on the detailed path to net zero.”

Road to Zero

In the transport sector, the government’s ‘Road to Zero’ initiative sets out a spectrum of policy measures design to slash carbon emissions by replacing at least half the current vehicle parc with ultra low emission vehicles by 2030.

As part of this initiative, the Government pledged a massive rollout of EV charging infrastructure, and – as predicted back in 2016 – last month, the number of charging locations (8,471) overtook the number of fuel stations (8,400).

The €440 million charging infrastructure investment initiative has seen more than 3,000 public charging locations with an additional 7,000 chargepoints installed since last summer, when the Road to Zero plan was unveiled.

Image © BP

Author: Mark Sutcliffe