Conference highlights priorities beyond electrification needed to deliver ‘net zero’ climate targets

Today’s Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership Annual Conference brings together leading speakers, representatives of government, key stakeholders and other experts to ask whether electrification alone can deliver the urgent reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions needed from the road transport sector. The conference – ‘More than electric dreams? Future Fuels on the Road to Zero? - asks whether accelerating the drive to battery electric vehicles can deliver road transport’s contribution to ‘net zero’ or whether we’ll need to use ‘other tools in the box’ to cut emissions from liquid fuels and combustion engines while we’re undergoing the electric transition.

Transport minister, Michael Ellis MP, will be making the keynote speech during the afternoon at the LowCVP Conference which is being held at One Birdcage Walk, Westminster today, involving 200 delegates. The Government has already announced a target to end the sale of conventional (internal combustion engined – ICE) cars and vans by 2040. Even if that target is brought forward to 2035 or 2030, as proposed by the Committee on Climate Change, ICE vehicles will still contribute around 50% of the GHG impacts from road transport to 2050. And while progress is being made in powering more and more cars, taxis and vans with electricity (from increasingly renewable sources), it’s argued that we still need practical solutions for ‘hard to electrify’ applications such as road freight (trucks) and long-distance coaches. LowCVP’s Managing Director Andy Eastlake said: “We’re making great strides towards the electrification of cars, vans and buses operating on certain duty cycles and with specific customers, but with sales still only a few percent of the total volume we must redouble our efforts to accelerate that transition. “But, in combination with that, we surely need to take as much fossil carbon out of the system as soon as we can. Indeed, the ‘quickest wins’ and greatest near-term impacts can be delivered through moves to decarbonise more ‘conventional’ transport fuels used in IC engines.” Alongside the Annual Conference, the LowCVP has also published its latest work programme for the next year, which aims to create the building blocks and evidence base across all road transport areas to enable the largest, most rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The Partnership – a collaboration between over 200 organisations representing government, industry and the widest range of stakeholders – has long been an advocate of full life-cycle carbon assessment for vehicles and is continuing this work in 2019. Reducing well-to-wheel GHG impacts through renewable fuels, works alongside the Partnership’s commitment to electrification which should drive its mass uptake in cars, vans and – ultimately - heavy vehicles. Throughout this work, robust assessment of the production impacts of the vehicles and the energy (used in both generation and storage) to power them, must be developed to ensure we use the ‘right tools for the right job’ and deliver the lowest overall GHG impact from road transport. Linking with the conference theme, the Partnership will also be working on projects to stimulate the uptake of high blend renewable fuels and helping further with preparations for the introduction of E10 (a 10% ethanol blend in petrol). Building on the leading UK work around the carbon assessment of biofuels, the Partnership will be further developing carbon and sustainability criteria proposals for low carbon transport fuels and other bioenergy sectors. Other key areas in the LowCVP’s new work programme include:

  • The Electric Vehicle Energy Taskforce (EVET), set up at the request of Government to help ensure the UK’s energy system is ready and able to facilitate the mass take up of EVs.

  • Identifying the barriers and opportunities for electrification of depot-based fleets.

  • Setting the standards for Ultra Low Emission Trucks to enable the creation of a policy framework to support their accelerated introduction.

  • Developing and promoting the rapidly expanding Ultra Low Emission Bus market

  • Several work-streams will help ensure there is informed demand for low carbon/emission vehicles, through consumer information, labelling and other mechanisms. There will be a particular focus on supporting the finance and leasing sector in accelerating the ULEV transition.

Andy Eastlake adds: “The new ‘net zero’ target means that we must redouble our efforts, working together on the widest range of fronts to deliver our objectives. I’ve no doubt that the UK can lead the way in creating a clean transport future, but this is very challenging and we’ll need the most ambitious policies, innovative products and highly motivated people in every area, to make it happen.”

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