Rise of electric vehicles could halve UK oil imports

Friday 25 August 2017
Paul McNamee Paul McNameeHead of politics020 7630 4527pmcnamee@green-alliance.org.uk

The government’s plan to end the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040 is a step in the right direction to reduce the UK’s reliance on energy imports. But a stronger target for electric vehicles could reduce UK foreign oil imports by more than 50 per cent in 2035, concludes a new study from leading environment and development organisations. [1]
New analysis by Green Alliance, supported by CAFOD, Christian Aid, Greenpeace, RSPB and WWF [2], has found that an ambition for all new cars and vans to be zero emission by 2030 would reduce oil imports by 51 per cent in 2035 compared to current projections. [3]
The report, ‘Why the UK needs an ambitious clean growth plan now, comes before the launch of the government’s clean growth plan this September, which will outline how the UK will cut its carbon emissions and set a course for developing low carbon industries.
In 2016, transport accounted for 40 per cent of energy consumption, with road transport accounting for just under three quarters of this. The report highlights that other countries are way ahead of the UK on the rollout of electric vehicles. Norway has nearly ten times more charging points per head of the population than the UK and 29 per cent of new cars and vans sold there in 2016 were electric, compared to 1.4 per cent in the UK.
A growing electric vehicle market in the UK would also bring additional benefits to reducing oil imports. On current trends, investment in electric vehicle charging points is estimated to be £18 billion by 2030. [4] And cutting nitrogen oxide and particulate emissions in urban areas will help to reduce the incidents of respiratory and heart conditions caused by poor air quality, reducing costs to the NHS.
As well as stronger targets for electric vehicles, the group is calling on the government to be more ambitious in other areas of the green economy such as renewable energy and housing energy efficiency. The clean growth plan is more than a year overdue and any further delay will hold back business investment in the low carbon sector.
Commenting on the findings, Gareth Redmond-King, head of climate and energy at WWF, said:
“The UK government’s commitment to end petrol and diesel vehicles sales in 2040 is too little, too late. We can and must go faster. Other countries, such as India and Norway, are way ahead in the scale of their ambitions. To ensure the UK doesn’t miss out on the jobs and investment opportunity in clean, modern vehicles, the UK should up its ambition. Cleaning up transport and boosting home energy efficiency must be priorities for the UK government in the forthcoming clean growth plan. Both measures will create jobs for UK businesses and reduce costs to the NHS caused by noxious air pollution and cold leaky homes.”
Laura Taylor, head of advocacy at Christian Aid, said:
“The UK's position of leadership on the green economy is far from guaranteed. The US administration is squandering its opportunity by stepping back from global agreements on climate change, while many other countries are seizing the initiative. The UK government’s long-overdue clean growth plan needs to prove that this government is serious about speeding up the low carbon transition, not slackening the pace. The benefits to citizens are enormous but areas like home energy efficiency and heating are lagging behind and need urgent political attention."
Paul McNamee, head of politics, Green Alliance
pmcnamee@green-alliance.org.uk; 020 7630 4527
[1] The report Why the UK needs an ambitious clean growth plan now is published on Friday 25 August 2017.

[2]The report is jointly produced by CAFOD, Christian Aid, Green Alliance, Greenpeace, RSPB and WWF.

[3] Read calculations of analysis here.

[4] Calculated by Green Alliance based on a forecast of EV infrastructure investment up to 2030 in Fuelling Britain’s future: www.camecon.com/FuellingBritainsFuture.aspx.