The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has called for laws which currently require all vehicles sold in the UK to be effectively zero-emission by 2040 to be brought forward ten years to 2030. The CCC says the earlier deadline would allow the UK to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. In July 2017, the government announced plans to ban sales of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040 to help tackle air pollution.
In its new Net Zero report, the CCC suggests that in order for all cars and vans to be electric by 2050, all new sales of cars and vans would need to be pure electric by 2035 at the latest.
The CCC also believes that cost parity between zero-emission and fossil fuel vehicles will arrive as soon as 2025, but also calls for improvements to the public charging infrastructure.
It states that 3,500 rapid and ultra-rapid chargers would need to be put in place near motorways and major road routes to aid long journeys, in addition to another 210,000 public chargers dotted around UK towns and cities. The report says that there are just 21,000 chargers of all types and speeds currently in use. In 2018, the UK government stated ultra-low emission hybrid vehicles would be exempt from the 2040 sales ban on new diesel and petrol vehicles.
Government advisors at the CCC also acknowledge that HGVs are harder to decarbonise, although research points to the possibility of very low emissions by the use of hydrogen or by electrification. A hydrogen-based switchover would require 800 refuelling stations to be built by 2050, a dramatic rise on the very small number currently operational in the UK. Similarly, the CCC’s report outlines HGV electrification would need 90,000 depot-based chargers for overnight charging.
The Net Zero document also analyses cutting emissions in other areas such as aviation and industry, in the home, waste disposal and meat production.