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Decarbonising Road Transport

Volume 738: debated on Thursday 26 October 2023

The UK has one of the most ambitious decarbonisation programmes of any country in the G7. In March this year, the Government published a globally unprecedented level of detail on their plans to meet emission reduction commitments, including those from road transport. The carbon budget delivery plan sets out the policies and quantified carbon reductions needed to meet carbon budgets 4 and 5 and the vast majority of reductions needed to meet our commitments into the 2030s.

On heavy goods vehicle road transport in particular, the start of the zero-emission road freight trials is welcome, but where is the low-carbon fuel strategy? Such fuels can cut emissions by 80%. The strategy will be crucial for shaping the investment plans of logistics companies, so why is it nearly a year late, and when are we going to see it?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for raising the issue of HGVs. As he acknowledges, last week the Government announced the four winning projects of the £200 million zero-emission HGV and infrastructure competition, which will roll out 370 zero-emission HGVs and around 57 refuelling and electric charging sites. This is part of a much broader strategy, which is about developing different fuel alternatives. The technology continues to change very rapidly. We have already heard some fascinating news about the development of solid-state batteries, and the Government are tracking and following all these developments closely.

I am still astonished at the Secretary of State’s claims that the English EV charging network is on track—absolutely no one thinks that in this country.

Pushing back the date for the ban on petrol and diesel cars by five years, combined with removing what was already one of Europe’s worst EV purchase incentive schemes, means that this Government are sending all the wrong signals to consumers. Mike Hawes of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said that consumers required

“a clear, consistent message, attractive incentives and charging infrastructure that gives confidence rather than anxiety. Confusion and uncertainty will only hold them back.”

I have no doubt that this decision was thoroughly assessed, so can the Minister tell us how many extra millions of tonnes of carbon will be emitted due to this Government’s back-pedalling on net zero?

Was it P. G. Wodehouse who said that it was not difficult to see the difference between a ray of sunshine and a Scotsman with a grievance? How true that is in this case! The truth of the matter is that there has been enormous progress in this area. Let me remind the hon. Gentleman that £6 billion of new private investment is being planned by ChargeUK. That has not been affected. One of the leading global mandates has been laid. We have just done this excellent work on charge points, and I am pleased to say that the independent National Infrastructure Commission of this country has stated that if the roll-out continues to grow at the current rate, we will meet our target of 300,000 public chargers by 2030.