UK Electric Fleets Alliance launched in bid to make the case for faster switch to 100 per cent electric vehicle sales in the UK within 10 years
A corporate coalition calling for a faster shift to electric vehicles (EVs) in the UK has been launched today by green business non-profit The Climate Group in partnership with digital telecoms giant BT.
Dubbed the UK Electric Fleets Alliance, the coalition is advocating for 100 per cent EV sales in the UK by 2030, five years sooner than the government's current proposals for a 2035 end date for the sale of new petrol and diesel cars.
Moreover, the group is also calling for targeted policy support to enable businesses to switch their fleets to run on electricity, aiming to solidify commitments from senior ministers to make clean transport a priority for next year's crucial COP26 global climate summit in Glasgow.
Transport is currently the UK's largest source of greenhouse gas emissions as well as being a major contributor to air pollution. As such, Helen Clarkson, CEO of The Climate Group, said targeting 100 per cent EV sales by 2030 was "critical for hitting the UK's net zero emissions goal and setting a powerful example of climate leadership to other countries as they prepare their coronavirus recovery plans and their climate pledges for next year's COP26 summit".
"We know there is broad appetite for this transition in the UK business community and we look forward to growing the Alliance and engaging with the government on this crucial issue," she added.
The Climate Group also manages the EV100 campaign, through which a growing numbers of corporates, including BT, have pledged to transition their fleets to EVs, with commitments to date set to put over 2.5 million EVs on the roads worldwide by 2030.
Boasting 34,000 vehicles, BT and its digital network business Openreach operate one of the UK's largest road transport fleets, but the firm conceded in its recent annual sustainability report that it has made slower progress than hoped in shifting to run its fleet on electricity due to a "challenging" market for EVs in the UK which it said was not yet "well established". The challenges faced by BT have been shared by many other businesses, with waiting times for new electric cars and vans sometimes extending for more than a year as demand outstrips supply.
Clive Selley, CEO of Openreach said he wanted BT's digital network to play a leading role in the UK's transition to low carbon vehicles. "But there are still some major hurdles to overcome," he explained. "For example, the kinds of vehicles, scale of manufacturing, supply-chains and infrastructure needed to electrify large fleets like ours simply doesn't exist today. So we need government support to make the transition faster and fuller, and the commitment to maintaining plug-in grants is a welcome first step."
The calls for government support come alongside today's open letter to the Prime Minister, which was backed by over 200 top businesses and is urging Ministers to deliver an explicitly green stimulus package that supports the UK's net zero transition.
The launch of the new UK Electric Fleets Alliance also came alongside plans for a new drive from BT to uncover the latest technologies from tech scale-up companies that could support the transition to net zero emissions.
The Green Tech Innovation Platform, which is set to utilise Silicon Valley-based platform Plug and Play, will focus on three core areas for innovation, BT said: 'Smart Streets' and traffic optimisation; 'Smart buildings', energy and water management; and remote working, looking at how 5G internet can harness video and virtual reality to help reduce the need for travel for work.
BT said it plans to announce the scale-up firms chosen through the platform in autumn 2020, after which they will have the opportunity to collaborate with BT and its customers to deploy their cutting-edge solutions.
Meanwhile, BT also confirmed it is now incorporating progress on carbon reduction and digital skills training into its remuneration policy for company executives, with these two components making up 10 per cent of BT's bonus calculators to incentivise progress against the goals.
Philip Jansen, BT Group chief executive, said while the economic impacts of the Covid-19 crisis could prove to be severe and long-lasting "the global climate emergency hasn't gone away".
"As we emerge from the crisis, the recovery presents a huge opportunity for governments, businesses and individuals to put action on climate at the heart of their efforts," he explained. "We will be playing our part with a once-in-a-generation investment in the UK's digital infrastructure: full fibre broadband to 20 million premises, as well as our continued investment in 5G mobile. We will also be backing new green technologies through our Green Tech Innovation Platform. BT is stepping up on climate action and we want to encourage and help others to do the same."
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