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How can fleets help cut greenhouse gas emissions to zero?

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The UK government has an ambition to, by the year 2050, reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to zero.  If this target is met then it could see the UK hailed as the globe’s cleanest country.

As of October 2018, around 500 million tonnes of CO2 were being emitted throughout the nation on an annual basis. Guidance from the Committee on Climate Change has been formally sought by the government about how and when the UK could bring this number down to zero though, with the move prompted from the release of a UN report which warned that CO2 emissions must be entirely stopped if dangerous climate disruption is to be avoided.

Claire Perry, the UK’s climate minister, pointed out to BBC News: “The report was a really stark and sober piece of work — a good piece of work. Now we know what the goal is, and we know what some of the levers are.

“But for me, the constant question is: what is the cost and who’s going to bear that, both in the UK and in the global economy. The question is: what does government need to do, where can the private sector come in, and what technologies will come through?”   

In this article, Vindis, a VW dealership, has showcased the scale of this challenge, by detailing just some of the things that will need to change across the nation to hit the target…

Opt for fuel-efficient vehicles

The UK government has already acted to try and make our roads cleaner, by announcing that new petrol and diesel cars and vans will be banned across the nation from 2040. 

While we may be a couple of decades away from seeing this ban come into force, it appears that an increasing number of British motorists are already exploring what’s available when it comes to alternative-fuel vehicles e.g. Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) powered vehicles. 

In fact, Next Green Car has reported that the number of new registrations of plug-in cars jumped from just 3,500 in 2013 to over 195,000 as of the end of January 2019. Furthermore, figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders highlighted that electric car sales across the UK has shifted from only close to 500 being registered each month in the early part of 2014 to an average of 5,000 per month throughout 2018.

The infrastructure in place to handle more alternative-fuel vehicles being on British roads is certainly improving as well, thanks to both sustained government and private investment. While the UK’s network of electric vehicle charging points was recorded in at just a few hundred units as of 2011, there had been more than 5,800 charging locations, 9,800 charging devices and 16,700 connectors installed by June 2018.

We may still be quite a while away from seeing all vehicles on the roads of the UK being run on alternative fuels — the latest vehicle data from the SMMT stated that the car registrations market share for January 2019 was 64.08 per cent petrol, 29.08 per cent diesel and 6.84 per cent alternative-fuel vehicles, for example — but it appears that things are at least moving in the right direction.

Start using low-carbon fuels more

Another helping hand that the UK could benefit from if it is to cut greenhouse gas emissions to zero is for more people and businesses to start using more low-carbon fuels. It appears the nation is already assisting in this area.

In figures compiled by Imperial College London and reported on by The Guardian, the capacity of renewable energy in the UK surpassed that of fossil fuels for the first time. With the amount of renewable capacity trebling in the same five-year period that fossil fuels decreased by one-third, the capacity of biomass, hydropower, solar and wind power hit 41.9 gigawatts and the capacity of gas, coal and oil-fired power plants recorded in at 41.2 gigawatts between July and September. 

Dr Iain Staffell carried out the research for Imperial College London, pointing out: “Britain’s power system is slowly but surely walking away from fossil fuels, and [the quarter between July and September] saw a major milestone on the journey.”

Earlier in 2018, a record was also set in that the UK managed to be powered without coal for three days in a row (the official time stood at 76 consecutive hours). This was before a report from Imperial College London which was commissioned by Drax suggested that coal supplied only 1.3 per cent of Britain’s entire use of electricity during the second quarter of 2018 — furnaces based at coal-fired power stations throughout the country were completely unused for 12 days in June last year too.

Better insulate homes

According to a BBC News article from February 2017, the UK was needing to cut carbon emissions by 80 per cent between the date that the piece was published and 2050. What’s more, a third of those carbon emissions had been recorded from heating draughty buildings across the nation. 

However, experts from the Green Building Council — a group of leading construction firms — stated in a report sent to Parliament that 25 million existing homes will not currently meet the insulation standards being enforced in the mid-century and will need to be refurbished to the highest standards. According to calculations, these findings mean that the rate of refurbishment stood at a rate of 1.4 homes needing to be worked on every minute as of the beginning of 2017.

There are many benefits, other than just cutting carbon emissions, to conducting this work. The Green Building Council’s head Julie Hirigoyen explains: “People will have warmer homes and lower bills; they will live longer, happier lives; we will be able to address climate change and carbon emissions.

“We will also be creating many thousands of jobs and exporting our best skills in innovation.”

The UK’s ambition to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050 definitely does sound like a challenge. Fortunately, some of the examples covered in this article does at least suggest that efforts are being made to ensure the nation reaches its goal.

Sources:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-45856377

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/target-zero-uk-aims-to-cut-all-emissions-by-2050-bddfcwmd6

https://www.nextgreencar.com/electric-cars/statistics/

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/nov/06/uk-renewable-energy-capacity-surpasses-fossil-fuels-for-first-time

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/apr/24/uk-power-generation-coal-free-gas-renewables-nuclear

https://www.newstatesman.com/spotlight/energy/2018/08/coal-supplied-just-one-cent-britains-electricity-summer

https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/scottish-power-wind-energy-renewable-drax-gas-station-climate-change-a8585961.html

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/661933/tsgb-2017-report-summaries.pdf

https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2017/apr/26/carpooling-commuting-car-share-liftshare-uber

Government wants all new rapid chargepoints to offer card payment by 2020

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The government wants to see all newly-installed rapid and higher powered chargepoints to provide debit or credit card payment by spring 2020.

One year since the launch of its Road to Zero Strategy, the government has signalled it expects industry to develop a roaming solution across the charging network, allowing electric vehicle drivers to use any public chargepoint through a single payment method without needing multiple smartphone apps or membership cards.

To date, government and industry have supported the installation of over 20,000 publicly accessible chargepoints in the UK, including more than 2,000 rapid devices, making it one of the largest charging networks in Europe. There are now more locations where you can charge your car than there are petrol stations, with almost every motorway service area having at least one rapid chargepoint.

To increase confidence in the charging network and reduce range anxiety the government says it’s working with industry to make chargepoint data freely available, helping drivers easily locate and access available chargepoints.

Future of Mobility Minister, Michael Ellis, said: “The government’s vision is for the UK to have one of the best electric vehicle charging networks in the world, but we know the variety of payment methods at the moment is a source of frustration for drivers.

“It is crucial there are easy payment methods available to improve electric vehicle drivers’ experiences and give drivers choice. This will help even more people enjoy the benefits electric vehicles bring and speed up our journey to a zero-emission future.”

Business and Industry Minister Andrew Stephenson said: “Initiatives like this are essential as we move towards a net zero economy, making it easier than ever for people to own and use electric vehicles.

“Investing in batteries, technology and infrastructure through our modern Industrial Strategy and Faraday battery challenge will ensure the UK leads the world in the global transition away from fossil fuels while supporting the future of our automotive industry.”

The announcement comes as BP Chargemaster, the operator of the UK’s largest public charging network, has taken what it says is a major step forward for industry by committing to introducing card payment on all new 50kW and 150kW chargers. It will also retrofit its existing UK-made rapid chargers with the technology over the next 12 months.

David Newton, CEO at BP Chargemaster, said: “As the operator of the UK’s largest public charging network, including the greatest number of rapid chargers, we support the government’s vision for all new rapid and ultra-fast chargers to support contactless bank card payment.

“We will be going one step further, not only by introducing this facility on all new 50kW and 150kW chargers from today, but also by committing to retrofit our existing UK-made rapid chargers with this technology over the next 12 months.”

The move follows the Prime Minister’s announcement last week that the government wants to see the development of a high speed electric vehicle charging infrastructure nationally; with the Office for Low Emission Vehicles to lead a review on the vision for the network.

The government has made clear that if the market is too slow to deliver improvements across the entire network it is prepared to intervene to ensure a good deal for consumers by using powers in the Automated and Electric Vehicles Act.

Image by Goran Horvat from Pixabay