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New HGVs must be zero emissions by 2040 under low carbon transport road map

·4-min read

New heavy goods vehicles sold in the UK will need to be zero emissions by 2040, the Government has announced, as ministers also unveiled the new design for the UK’s network of electric charging points.

The Government hopes the vehicle chargers, designed with the Royal College of Art and PA Consulting, will become as recognisable as the red post box or London’s black cabs.

The plans come in a series of announcements on low carbon transport due to be made on “transport day” at the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow.

The Department for Transport (DfT) also said new trucks of 26 tonnes and under must be net zero by 2035, which comes on top of its pre-existing pledge to phase out the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030.

The new car charging point
The new car charging point at the Design Museum in London (Department for Transport/PA)

But exemptions to the phase out dates will be considered for specialist vehicles, such as those for the military or emergency services, and for small manufacturers who need more time to adapt.

Logisitics UK, which represents logistics businesses, welcomed the announcement as providing “much-needed certainty” for the industry, but warned the deadlines were achievable only with Government support.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “From our roads to the skies, the transition to zero emission transport has reached a tipping point.”

He added: “To support the transition to EVs, it’s integral that we have the infrastructure to support it.

“My vision is for the UK to have one of the best EV infrastructure networks in the world, with excellent British design at its heart.”

Transport day will see the launch of a working group of ministers from 24 countries and industry leaders – including representatives of GM, Ford, Mercedes, and Volvo commit to 100% zero emission new car and van sales by 2040.

Elsewhere, a number of emerging economies including India, Ghana, Kenya, Paraguay, Rwanda and Turkey, will announce plans to shift towards electric vehicles.

It will also see the launch of the Zero Emission Vehicle Transition Council (ZEVTC), a network of 30 countries agreeing to work together to make zero emissions vehicles the new normal.

Other announcements include 220 million dollars in funding coordinated by the World Bank to support the decarbonisation of road transport in the global south.

Nineteen countries will unveil plans for “green shipping corridors” – ports equipped with the necessary infrastructure to facilitate the shift to zero emissions vessels.

And 14 states, collectively making up for more than 40% of global aviation emissions, have put their names to a commitment to a new decarbonisation target under a new International Aviation Climate Ambition Coalition, the DfT said.

Speaking to The Telegraph, Mr Shapps said travel, including aviation, should be “guilt free” and added the Government did not see flying as “the ultimate evil” amid criticisms of people attending Cop26, including the Prime Minister, using planes for short journeys.

Mr Shapps said: “I believe, as Transport Secretary, that we can get to guilt-free travel in this country. There’s been an idea that’s been allowed to percolate that somehow if we’re going to meet all these different carbon commitments we are going to need to get to the point where we all stay home, that travel is somehow something which attracts great guilt.

“It gets worse the further you travel, so flying is, of course, the ultimate evil, as it’s presented, and that’s just not what we believe as the British Government.”

He added any changes to the way we live our lives “should not be the inability to go and visit you friends and family and do business”.

But the UK’s biggest bus and coach provider warned the UK will not achieve the shift to net zero emissions through technology alone, and urged the Government to incentivise the use of public transport.

Martin Griffiths, chief executive of Stagecoach, said: “We need leaders to be honest with citizens that we cannot go on as we are now by simply replacing jams of diesel and petrol cars with jams of electric cars.

“Congestion is costing our economy billions of pounds each year, and that cannot be reduced by technology alone.”

He added: “Stagecoach is investing hundreds of millions of pounds in new clean electric buses and making major changes to reduce carbon, but we need the government’s help in encouraging people to switch from cars to more sustainable public transport, cycling and walking.”

And Michelle Gardner, head of public policy at Logistics UK, said: “These dates will only be attainable if the Government provides the right support: our members need to see a nationwide network of recharging and refuelling infrastructure put in place, effective and affordable vehicles made readily available for all, and fairer charging arrangements for the necessary power upgrades to commercial premises.

“We are disappointed that low carbon-fuelled vehicles will not be available for sale after 2040. These fuels can act as effective, interim solutions while the technology for zero tailpipe emission HGVs matures; many of our members are keen to utilise these low-carbon alternatives.”

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