UK pushes for pole position on green transport

A high powered meeting of industry experts, academics and policy makers was held in London this week to discuss how to kick start the mass market production of electric vehicles and other low carbon transport.

Delegates from more than 15 countries gathered to discuss the technological challenges, barriers and opportunities that could be created from the low carbon and electric vehicle market.

The Government-arranged meeting on Monday was a follow up to Gordon Brown's announcement earlier this year that he wants to see Britain at the forefront of the development of green transport.

Business Minister, Ian Pearson, said: "Currently, less than 0.1% of the UK's 26 million cars are electric.

"The Government is committed to bring lower carbon vehicles to Britain's roads as soon as possible. We need to act now to ensure that the UK is at the forefront of this new industry.

"The UK's automotive sector has a global reputation for research and development, design engineering and manufacturing. The development of electric vehicle technology is an opportunity for the UK to take the lead and, given the current state of the global economy, we need to seize that opportunity now."

While the idea behind the gathering was to allow those working in this area to share knowledge, most of those in attendance will already be familiar with developments taking place in the other countries represented, at least on a broad brush level.

Where the meeting might make more than symbolic progress, however, is its aim of producing a declaration on how to take the outcomes forward.

It's also expected that the progress made will be fed into the G8 Energy Forum in Japan in November and the London Energy Summit in December as low carbon vehicles are expected to be on the agendas for both these events.

Recognised as one of the world's leading experts in the field, Professor Dan Sperling, the director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Berkeley spoke at the event.

He said: "I am delighted that the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, has shown such leadership by taking this first critical step forward in the UK.

"He is to be commended in calling this important international meeting and setting the ball rolling for a low carbon vehicle future for the UK.

"I am looking forward to discussing with experts from around the world how we can move forward one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century - the transformation of cars and the car industry."

Other speakers at the event included The Secretary of State for Transport, Geoff , Ian Marchant from Scottish and Southern Energy, Terunobu Yamauchi, from Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Tayce Wakefield of General Motors and Lewis Booth from the Ford Motor Company.

Sam Bond




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