In a speech at the Low-Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP) annual conference yesterday (June 24), Jones said the rise in electric vehicle sales would help solve air pollution problems and potentially prevent thousands of deaths each year.

Jones – who took up his position at the Department for Transport (DfT) in May – said the rhetoric of climate change and reducing carbon emissions can often fail to resonate with consumers.

“Having come from local into central government, I’m aware that big concepts like global warming and climate change can seem remote and distant to people’s everyday lives,” he said. “We talk about saving billions of tons of carbon by making transport greener, but frankly, that doesn’t always resonate among communities.”

Public health

The Harrogate and Knaresborough MP added public concerns over air quality could help increase support for low-carbon vehicles. He said: “People listen to news reports about the health effects of pollution, yet all too often the local and global aspects of transport emissions are divorced, when in fact they are closely related.

“Ultra-low emission vehicles not only help tackle climate change they make our air cleaner too, cutting levels of particulates and other pollutants. Reducing levels of particulate matter could help prevent up to 29,000 premature deaths annually.”

Air quality and vehicle emissions have become a heated political issue, particularly in London where Mayor Boris Johnson backtracked last year over comments relating to London’s levels of nitrogen dioxide pollution. He has since announced the development of an Ultra Low Emissions Zone in central London.

The Government is currently investing £500m to accelerate the uptake of ultra-low emission vehicles and is working with the industry through the promotion of the Go Ultra Low scheme.

Formula E

The transport minister also praised the arrival of Formula E, the electric vehicle racing championship, in the UK.

This weekend sees the Formula E championship come to Battersea Park in London.

Jones said: “We’ll be using the event through the Go Ultra Low campaign to drive home the core messages on the benefits of electric cars and hopefully persuade some of the spectators to try ultra low motoring themselves.”

Ahead of the LowCVP conference this week the group released a series of reports detailing the infrastructure needs of future low-carbon vehicle deployment in the UK.

The group said more than £10bn in investment would be needed to help the UK meet its carbon emissions reduction targets by 2050.

Matt Field

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