The UK’s Climate Change Committee (CCC) has slammed the government over its slow progress towards its commitments and said it has to take action both to speed up progress towards its legal targets and to regain its international leadership role. It said “Our confidence in the UK meeting its goals from 2030 onwards is now markedly less than a year ago”.
The CCC was set up over a decade ago to advise the government on meeting its carbon reduction commitments and to track its progress. Flagging progress as ‘red’ in many areas, in its latest progress report to parliament, it included recommendations for government departments to try to bring decarbonisation back on track.
The CCC wants the Department of Transport to complete two initiatives on decarbonising heavy vehicle transport by 2024. Firstly it recommends the department produce an infrastructure strategy that sets out how the transition of heavy-duty vehicles to zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) will be enabled. The strategy should consider options for depot charging, en-route ultra-rapid charging and hydrogen refuelling infrastructure. Second, it wants the DfT to begin consulting on an appropriate regulatory mechanism for delivering the ZEV transition for heavy-duty vehicles, including HGVs and buses.
The CCC also has concerns over whether the necessary infrastructure will be in place and it wants the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero to work with DfT - as well as electricity regulator Ofgem, electricity network operators and local government - to deliver new electricity grid connections. Local demand forecasts should be used to allow planning ahead to avoid bottlenecks in strengthening the electricity network, “considering demand for both public charging stations and electrification of van and HGV depots”.
However it also recommended reducing freight and vehicle use. It previously recommended that DfT work with the freight industry on pilot schemes on reducing van and HGV usage in cities and that has been delayed from its 2022 delivery date. It also wants a “systematic review of current and future road-building projects” so decisions do not lock in traffic growth. It says schemes should be taken forward “only if they meaningfully support cost-effective delivery of Net Zero and climate adaptation”. It warmed that plans to extend the UK Emissions Trading Scheme to shipping should not displace freight transported by ship onto roads.