COP26: here’s how much progress the UK has made on three key net zero pledges

The UK is hosting the 26th annual UN climate summit in Glasgow. Boris Johnson’s government boasts of having the most ambitious climate change targets in the world. But how is the country’s progress to net zero emissions by 2050 going? We asked three experts to look at three key pledges.


Pledge: To phase out sales of petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030.

Progress: Electric vehicles, or EVs, accounted for 15.2% of all new UK vehicle registrations in September 2021, up from an average of 6.6% in 2020 and 1.6% in 2019. There are now almost 100 different EV models to choose from and a growing network of nearly 5,000 rapid chargers, up from 2,000 in 2018.

In Norway, a country which is aiming for a more ambitious 2025 ban on petrol and diesel vehicles, nearly 80% of all vehicle sales in September were electric, up from 54.3% in 2020.

Norway has demonstrated that a transition to electric vehicles is possible with current technologies if attractive policies, such as EV tax exemptions, are in place.

There are lots of hurdles which the UK must overcome to achieve its own 100% EV sales target by 2030, such as households which lack driveways to charge their EVs at home and the commercial van sector, which will also fall under the ban. The government can help by installing more on-street charging points, simplifying the use of rapid charging points so they can all take contactless payment and working with manufacturers to offer test drives. Electric vans currently qualify for government grants worth up to £6,000, but businesses may need more generous incentives.

As the rest of the world rushes to meet their own EV targets, there could be a shortage of materials, parts and skills to make enough to keep up with demand. This could cause the price of EVs to rise or overwhelm waiting lists. One solution is to invest in the UK’s automotive sector and develop a flexible domestic supply chain with a network of gigafactories to produce the millions of batteries needed.

Overall, the signs are looking good for high levels of EV purchasing in the near future, but it’s not time to take the foot off the zero-emission gas just yet.


For the full article co-written by Dr Ashley Fly visit the Conversation.


Notes for editors

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