The announcement of UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s rollback of the ban on new petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2030 to 2035 has been met with staunch opposition by the sustainable last mile logistics industry.
Executive Chairman at EAV, Nigel Gordon-Stewart, told Zag Daily: “Rishi Sunak’s announcement is a huge back-pedal on the UK’s commitment to net-zero and decarbonisation in Europe.
“It has taken this country from leading Europe to now being seen as the first major Western nation to cave to populist pro-ICE electioneering.
“As a result, investment in the UK future mobility development sector has just shut its doors with market pressure lifted for another five years. Far from benefiting the country, the Conservative Party just made new mobility business in post-Brexit Britain even harder.”
With the Conservative Party up for re-election next year, many believe the environmental crisis has become politicised and used as a means to both divide public opinion and gain votes.
While Sunak insists that the move is coherent with the UK’s legally binding goal of hitting net zero by 2050, the decision to delay the ban is part of a trend in the UK of watering down its environmental commitments.
Rob King, Co-founder and CEO of Zedify, commented: “In logistics, we’ve seen the power that progressive policies such as clean air zones can have on driving change in cities like Bristol and London. We need ambitious changes like that, and we need certainty.”
Sunak has refuted claims that he’s slowing down efforts to tackle climate change. As upfront costs for electric vehicles are still high, he says the delay is meant to give people more time to make the transition.
Sunak asserts that the transition should be consumer-driven, not enforced by the government. He stated his expectation that regardless, the vast majority of cars sold by 2030 will be electric due to improving ranges, increased charging infrastructure and lowered costs.
Kevin Savage, Chief Operating Officer at Delivery Mates, told Zag: “Decarbonizing our vehicles is vital for air quality and our fight against climate change. We should be accelerating this transition, not postponing it. Climate change waits for no one, and our commitment to a greener future should remain unwavering.
“This decision risks incentivising more petrol vehicles for deliveries, which could lead to increased emissions, traffic congestion, and a step backwards in our environmental progress.”
UK falling behind
Industry experts sound a warning signal that the lack of government ambition will have a domino effect on the UK’s new mobility sector and its standing in Europe.
“As evidenced by my recent trip to IAA MOBILITY last week in Munich, it’s clear that the general view of the UK is that we’re falling behind,” said Gordon-Stewart. “It’s definitely influenced by Brexit, but also investment in Europe into clean energy and new mobility technology is significantly stronger than in the UK.”
The uncertainty of national policies creates a challenging environment for businesses and investors, making it difficult to plan and make informed decisions in an industry already facing financial uncertainty.
King said: “This flip-flopping from the Government makes it harder for boardrooms to make decisions to act now on switching to cleaner last mile logistics. But businesses have seen the writing on the wall, those that want to succeed long term will be undeterred.”
According to sources within the automotive industry, the government’s mandate for manufacturers to achieve specific minimum targets for the sale of electric vehicles remains unchanged and will be enforced starting next year.
Under these regulations, automakers will be required to ensure that a minimum of 22% of the vehicles they sell produce zero tailpipe emissions starting January 1 2024. This requirement will progressively increase, reaching 80% by the year 2030. The government is anticipated to officially announce the policy on Friday.