Switching all UK cars to electric vehicles would slash emissions by 12%, researchers claim

15th May 2020 | Commercial Energy

Switching all cars on UK roads to available electric vehicles (EVs) like the Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model 3 would cut the nation’s emissions by almost 12%, new research from Nottingham Trent University (NTU) has found. Transport will be one of the main areas of focus for the UK’s net-zero emissions goals for 2050. Transport currently emits more greenhouse gases than any other sector of the economy and the UK Government has implemented its Road to Zero Strategy to outline specific steps to curb emissions in the sector.

New research published this week by NTU suggest that electrifying all 32 million passenger vehicles in the UK could reduce the total national carbon emissions by more than 14%. While this will lead to an increase in emissions from electricity consumption, the researchers believe it will cause a modest 2.1% increase in emissions, and as such would deliver a total cut in carbon emissions of 12%.

Electric vehicles

The UK will have to deliver annual carbon intensity reductions of 10% to meet its net-zero legislation for 2050, up from less than 4% currently, according to a study from professional services firm PwC. “These are encouraging findings and show just how much impact the switch to electric cars could have,” researcher George Miley said. “In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, we are regularly seeing reports on how the environment has benefitted from the decreased use of combustion engines. If and when the UK moves exclusively to electric car usage, we will similarly see real benefits in the dramatic reduction in levels of CO2”.

The research found that 42 million tonnes of CO2 would be removed from the atmosphere by switching to EVs, reducing the transport sector’s emissions by more than 42% as a result. The Government is aiming to phase-out the sale of new diesel and petrol vehicles by 2040. The ban could be moved forward five years to 2035, subject to consultation. For the first time, the UK’s polluting vehicle phase-out will include hybrid vehicles.

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