Major independent body launched to accelerate transport decarbonisation

The Council aims to develop a comprehensive roadmap to decarbonise UK transport.

The ultimate objective of the Council is to provide the next UK Government with a well-defined, consensus-based strategy for future policy. This will not only guide national decisions but also offer a clear framework for policy implementation at all levels of government.

The launch of the new council has been organised by the non-profit Zemo Partnership, formerly Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP), that has been providing policy guidance to the Government for the past two decades.

The Council will be chaired by Lord Deben, former chair of the UK’s climate watchdog, the Climate Change Committee (CCC).

Other members include Professor Jillian Anable, Elizabeth de Jong, Mike Hawes, Fiona Howarth, Professor Neville Jackson, Edmund King OBE, Cordi O’Hara OBE FEI, Dr Doug Parr, Anne Shaw OBE, Chris Stark, Martin Tugwell and David Wells.

The incoming Chair of the Local Infrastructure and Net Zero (LINZ) Board from the Local Government Association, yet to be named, will also participate.

Working with more than 200 member organisations, the Council aims to develop a comprehensive roadmap to decarbonise UK transport. This roadmap will be supported by detailed sectoral plans, outlining the optimal pathways to achieve net-zero by 2050.

The creation of this Council comes at a critical juncture, as the general election looms and the Government’s climate action plan faces legal challenges.

Council’s chair Lord Deben said: “The recent High Court decision that the Carbon Budget Delivery Plan was unlawful underlines the scale of the challenge that will be facing the next Government.

“Progress on net-zero has stalled. In some areas we’ve gone backwards. This new Council brings together very experienced people to help forge an evidence-based, multi-stakeholder consensus on how we can maximise the benefits from this essential – and inevitable – transition.”

Zemo Partnership has confirmed that the Council will regularly report on progress through a series of quarterly briefings, with the next update scheduled for 3 September.

Additionally, a broader summit is planned for 3 October to engage with the Partnership’s members and other stakeholders, aiming to refine and inform the sectoral roadmaps.

Zemo’s executive director Claire Haigh said: “Whoever enters Downing Street on 5 July, the fundamental challenges for net-zero remain the same.

“Transport is the fastest growing source of global greenhouse gas emissions. We urgently need to move beyond targets to the delivery of net-zero transport.”

Growth in UK EV market share

In related news, new data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has revealed that while new registrations for petrol and diesel cars fell last month, the demand for electric vehicles (EV) continued to rise.

According to the findings, plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) recorded the highest growth among all powertrains, up 31.5% year-on-year to achieve an 8% market share. Hybrids (HEVs) also saw a rise of 9.6%, maintaining their position as the third most popular fuel type at 13.2% of the market, after petrol and battery electric vehicles (BEVs).

BEV registrations outpaced the overall market, rising 6.2% to capture a 17.6% market share, up from 16.9% in the same month last year. The fleet sector was the primary driver of this increase, with volumes up 10.7%. However, private retail BEV uptake fell by 2.0%, just 98 registrations short of May last year.

Despite these positive trends, the performance of BEVs remains below the trajectory mandated by the Government’s Vehicle Emissions Trading Scheme (VETS), which includes the Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) mandate that requires 22% of new vehicles sold this year by each brand to be zero emission.

Although there are now more than 100 EV models available and numerous offers from manufacturers, the SMMT emphasises that meeting these targets will require additional support.

Currently, certain private buyers can access benefits similar to those enjoyed by business buyers through salary sacrifice schemes. However, the SMMT suggests that providing universal access to these incentives could significantly increase BEV uptake and accelerate the decarbonisation of road transport.

Recommendations include temporarily halving VAT on new BEV purchases and reducing VAT on public charging from 20% to 5%.

SMMT’s chief executive Mike Hawes said: “As Britain prepares for next month’s general election, the new car market continues to hold steady as large fleets sustain growth, offsetting weakened private retail demand.

“Consumers enjoy a plethora of new electric models and some very attractive offers, but manufacturers can’t sustain this scale of support on their own indefinitely.

“Their success so far should be a signpost for the next Government that a faster and fairer transition requires carrots, not just sticks.”

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