News | Published August 22 2019

Carbon emitting cars must be phased out to meet climate change targets, MPs say

The Science and Technology Select Committee has said that emissions  will not hit the UK Zero Net Carbon target by 2050 unless existing vehicles are phased out for greener alternatives.

Following advice from the AA, the committee says that new technology cannot be the sole solution to the problem of greenhouse gas emissions caused by transport.

The committee said in a report: “In the long-term, widespread personal vehicle ownership does not appear to be compatible with significant decarbonisation.”

MPs have called for better provision of charging stations for electric vehicles and more financial incentives for purchasing electric cars, but insisted that more research must be done on the environmental impact of electric car batteries.

A lack of sufficient incentives fuelled an increase in the rate of average carbon emissions from new vehicles back in 2017.

The report reads: “Hydrogen technology may prove to be cheaper and less environmentally damaging than battery-powered electric vehicles. The government should not rely on a single technology.”

The committee says improvements to public transport must also be made and recommended the government rethink its current policy on public transport costs which they say act as a disincentive.

They have also asked the government to encourage people to walk and cycle more regularly to crack down on carbon emissions.

Their report states that sufficient steps are not being taken across the whole of the economy to ensure that the UK hits its 2050 target.

Another recommendation for the housing sector includes raising stamp duty for homes that are poorly insulated, with home buyers then able to apply for rebates after making necessary improvements.

The government is set to consider the findings of the report.

A government spokesman responded: "From transport to heating, electricity to agriculture, we are working to put in place the right measures to help us tackle global warming. We welcome the committee's report and will consider its findings.

"We are going further and faster to tackle climate change than any other major economy having legislated for net zero emissions by 2050."

Fuel duty increases have been kept at a minimum in recent years after persistent lobbying from motorists, but MPs insist that the increases must not fall below average rises in rail and bus fares.

Meanwhile, AA president Edmund King agrees with some aspects of the committee’s report, but believes that widespread personal vehicle ownership can fall in line with reducing carbon emissions.

Speaking to the BBC, King said: “Stating that widespread personal vehicle ownership isn’t compatible with significant decarbonisation seems to be giving up on emerging science and technology.

“Technology is developing at a rapid rate with great potential from more efficient electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. More emphasis should be going into renewable energy and greener vehicle production rather than higher fuel duty or banning hybrids, as the report recommends.

“The fastest growth in traffic is by vans due to internet deliveries so more technological effort should be put into decarbonising that sector as a priority.”

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Authored by

Scott Challinor
Business Editor
August 22 2019

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