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In 2021, the government pledged we would be Net Zero by 2050... where are we now?

In order to avoid the most devastating effects of climate change, half of all greenhouses gas emissions must be cut by 2030.

Between October 31st and November 13th 2021, the UK hosted the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26). On this 26th annual summit, the UK acted as President on what has been referred to as the “most important COP since Paris”.

Previous COPs have been warned about not listening to scientific experts closely and failing to even include reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

What were the outcomes of the summit?

Part of the outcome of COP26 was to “phase down unbated coal power” and “inefficient fossil fuel subsidies”, which has never been included in UN text in the past.

The Net Zero Strategy: Build Back Greener “sets out policies and proposals for decarbonising all sectors of the UK economy to meet our net zero target by 2050”.

The government set out a 10 point plan for bringing about a green industrial revolution, working towards the 2030 Nationally Determined Contribution and 2050 net zero goals.

The Race to Zero report states, “By 2030 we need to achieve Breakthrough Outcomes in all sectors of the global economy to deliver a zero carbon world in time”.

The Breakthrough for the car sector is to transition to vehicles that don’t rely on fossil fuels and this is to be “delivered by 2025, or 2030 at the latest”.[2] Leaders agreed, in summation, to decrease and eventually stop using inefficient fossil fuels and to stop subsidising the price of said fuels.

Are we on track to meet COP26 climate goals?

Lots of discussion, lots of promises, lots of pledges and lots of money, but has there been any progress yet?

Europe, the US, China, and India committed to Net Zero meaning that most of the world is covered by Net Zero commitments. India alone committed to generating half of its electricity from renewables by 2030.

Fossil fuels are the biggest source of CO2 in the world, contributing 64% of total emissions according to the IPCC. Since COP26, the National Grid has saved 300,000 tonnes of carbon by importing zero carbon powder from France through the IFA2 (their second subsea interconnector).

Alongside other projects, the National Grid Electricity Transmission has had its target to keep global warming to 1.5°C verified by the Science Based Targets Initiative.

What does this mean for electric vehicles?

One of the key commitments of COP26 was to phase out reliance on fossil fuels and to stop international financial subsidies for fossil fuels. The UK government used the slogan “Cash, coal, cars and trees to keep the world to 1.5C” as the key focus points of COP26.

2021 saw sales of electric vehicles almost double and charge points increase from 24,374 to 42,000 in 2022. This follows the UK government’s announcement that no new petrol and diesel cars can be manufactured after 2030. More car companies are embracing new models, with 100 to choose from now, and Volkswagen in Germany sold out of EVs for the year across the EU and US.

Boris Johnson said BritishVolt are part of the “UK’s place at the helm of the global green industrial revolution”. BritishVolt are in the process of constructing a £3.8 billion gigafactory in the hopes of producing 300,000 electric battery packs a year, following a £100 million boost from the government. They aim to produce over 38Gwh by 2029/2030.

Britain has also been shortlisted for a £7 billion gigafactory by ProLogium to produce solid-state batteries for EVs that have fast-charging enabled. This will be one of the biggest in Europe and is part of the effort to increase the production of EVs and to create a booming industry before diesel and petrol cars are phased out in 2030.

However, ESGClarity states that goals have already been thrown off course by the war between Russia and Ukraine.[1] This has caused fuel prices to dramatically increase, leading to the government subsidising fuel prices again. Whilst this has led to an increase in EV sales, it has also disrupted the production of EV cars and the overall energy crisis inflicted on the UK has led to some trepidation in people considering the jump from ICE cars to EVs.

There is clearly a very long way to go before EVs and public transport can fully replace fuel powered cars, but there has been movement since COP26. Uswitch’s Ben Smithson says, “there’s still a long way to go” but the UK’s “charging infrastructure is improving all the time” and there are now “more electric vehicle charging points than fuel stations installed around the UK”.

The agenda for COP27 hasn’t yet been announced, but hopefully even more improvement is to follow.

If you are considering making the switch to an electric vehicle, get in touch today to have a charger installed at your business!


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