A report published by Green Alliance, and supported by CAFOD, Christian Aid and WWF, calls on the government to put stronger targets in place to encourage the rollout of electric vehicles (EVs).
The study claims that while the 2040 target is a ‘step in the right direction’, if ministers required all new cars and vans to be zero emission by 2030, then the UK could reduce foreign oil imports by more than 50% by 2035.
It also notes that the UK is lagging behind other countries in the rollout of EVs, with ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs) only making up 1.4% of all the new cars and vans sold here last year.
The study states new infrastructure and targets will needed to ensure the UK keeps up with other countries, like Norway, where 29% of all the new cars and vans sold in 2016 were ULEVS.
Recently published figures from the Office for National Statistics show just 5% of people are thinking about buying an electric car or van, while 55% said they had not thought about it.
The study adds that in 2016, transport accounted for 40% of energy consumption, with road transport accounting for just under three quarters.
A growing electric vehicle market in the UK would also bring additional benefits to reducing oil imports.
Based on current trends, investment in electric vehicle charging points is estimated to be £18bn by 2030.
And cutting nitrogen oxide and particulate emissions in urban areas will help to reduce the incidents of respiratory and heart conditions caused by poor air quality, reducing costs to the NHS.
‘The UK government’s commitment to end petrol and diesel vehicles sales in 2040 is too little, too late,’ said the WWF’s head of climate and energy, Gareth Redmond-King.
‘We can and must go faster. Other countries, such as India and Norway, are way ahead in the scale of their ambitions. To ensure the UK doesn’t miss out on the jobs and investment opportunity in clean, modern vehicles, the UK should up its ambition.
‘Cleaning up transport and boosting home energy efficiency must be priorities for the UK government in the forthcoming clean growth plan. Both measures will create jobs for UK businesses and reduce costs to the NHS caused by noxious air pollution and cold leaky homes.’
The study also calls on the government to reintroduce a zero carbon homes standard by 2020 to help cut energy costs.
It also recommends the government set a target to improve the energy efficiency standards of all existing domestic and business properties to EPC C standard by 2035.
‘The UK government’s long-overdue clean growth plan needs to prove that this government is serious about speeding up the low carbon transition, not slackening the pace,’ said Christian Aid’s head of advocacy, Laura Taylor.
‘The benefits to citizens are enormous but areas like home energy efficiency and heating are lagging behind and need urgent political attention.’