Tesco joins call on UK Government to fast-track move to zero-emission cars and vans to 2030

Momentum for the UK to ditch fossil fuel cars and vans is growing as Tesco has joined a group of now 27 big corporates publicly calling on the UK Government to target 100% zero emission car and van sales from 2030*. The Government is currently revising its plans. 

In addition to Tesco, Dixons Carphone, E.ON, Heathrow, Lime and SSE are also joining the UK Electric Fleets Coalition, a partnership launched by the Climate Group and BT, including Openreach. Together these companies are already working to electrify over 400,000 of their own vehicles in the UK, most of them through the Climate Group’s global EV100 campaign. 

Government changing the date alone will not guarantee success, so the coalition of businesses are also asking for policies to: 

  • support UK manufacturing of battery electric vehicles to help the auto sector through the transition; 

  • extend financial incentives to further boost demand; and 

  • unlock investment to help rapidly rollout charging points. 

This call on the Government comes during the largest international climate summit of the year, Climate Week NYC, and days ahead of the PM’s speech at the UN General Assembly, both held virtually because of COVID-19 restrictions. As host of next year’s postponed UN climate talks (COP26), the UK is under pressure to set an example to the world – the EU has just upped its proposed climate target and China has signaled it’s considering doing the same. 

Tesco has also announced today it’s joining the EV100 initiative. This now includes 86 businesses, committed to switching over 4.8 million vehicles across the world to zero emissions and annually reporting on their progress. For comparison, new car sales for the UK last year totaled 2.3 million vehicles. 

Helen Clarkson, CEO of international non-profit the Climate Group – organizer of Climate Week NYC, said:

“Only bold action can achieve the 50% cut in emissions the world needs by 2030, and the UK, as host of upcoming UN climate talks, must set an example. 

“Of course, it’s not as simple as just setting a target. More government action is needed to support manufacturing of EVs and to unlock infrastructure investment. But both come with a big dividend for UK jobs. We’re in the middle of global recession – the climate can’t wait and our economy can’t wait 

“Big businesses, now including Tesco, working together through our EV100 campaign are showing that 100% zero emission vehicles by 2030 is possible. And they are using their scale to drive down costs for consumers and roll out charging points too.” 

Giles Bolton, Responsible Sourcing Director, Tesco, said: 

“We are delighted to become signatories of the EV100 campaign, which brings together both our commitment to transition to 100% electric vans, and our plan to install EV chargers for Tesco customers and colleagues all over the UK. The electrification of transport is crucial to becoming a zero carbon business by 2035 in the UK and 2050 globally, and we will need collaboration across industry and government through the likes of EV100 in order to overcome the barriers to transition together.” 

Four out of five of the UK’s largest private sector fleets now back the move to zero emission only new cars in 2030 and will be taking their whole fleets electric by then too. They will play a critical role at the forefront of rolling out infrastructure. 

Alistair Phillips-Davies, Chief Executive, from SSE, with one of the largest fleets in the UK, said: 

“Since May we’ve been calling on Government to adopt a 2030 end date for the sale of Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) cars and vans, and are pleased to join other leading UK businesses in this call as part of the UK Electric Fleets Coalition.  

“Making the switch to electric vehicles (EVs) will not only help tackle climate change and improve air quality in our towns and cities, but it will help drive the costs of EVs down and spur the development of a new clean industry contributing to a green recovery. We’re doing our part by committing to decarbonising our own fleet of vehicles by 2030 as part of the EV100 and, with the right support in place including a coordinated roll-out of EV charge points and a 2030 end date for ICE vehicle sales, the UK could become a hub of electric mobility and encourage similar actions internationally ahead of COP26.” 

Good for business, good for consumers, good for the climate.  

Businesses in the Climate Group’s EV100 programme are already finding EVs save them money once lower running costs and maintenance are factored in. And the upfront cost of EVs is set to be lower than fossil fuel cars in just a few years. The Climate Group believes the question will increasingly be asked whether any businesses or consumers would actually want to be pay more to buy and run a new petrol or diesel car in 2030?  

The fact that this call on government brings together major multinational companies with international NGOs such as Greenpeace underlines how much the world of climate action has changed in recent years. Clean energy and transport solutions are already cheaper for business and consumers in much of the world, and expected to be so in the near future everywhere else. 

Paul Morozzo, Campaigner Greenpeace UK, said:  

“If we want clean air and a stable climate, then it’s absolutely vital that we move beyond the internal combustion engine and rethink the way we get around. Given that better technologies are already widely available, banning sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030 is the logical thing to do. More and more leading businesses are getting on board, and it’s now time for ministers to finally take their place at the driving seat and lead.” 

The 27 members of the Coalition collectively operate over 400,000 cars and vans across the UK. The full list of businesses includes: Anglian Water, BT, Centrica, Dixons Carphone, DPD UK, ENGIE, E.ON, Fleet Alliance, Foxtons, Heathrow, Hitachi Capital UK, Iberdrola (Scottish Power), Ingka Group (IKEA), LeasePlan, Lime, Mawdsleys, Mitie, NatWest Group, Octopus Energy, Openreach, Orsted, OVO Energy, Severn Trent, SSE, Tesco, Tusker and Unilever.  

All 27 members have supported adverts in the UK national press today highlighting their support for a 2030 move for all new cars and vans being zero emission. 

In addition, at Climate Week NYC on Thursday 24 September, BT’s CSO Andy Wales will discuss policies needed to accelerate the UK EV transition with Transport Minister Rachel Maclean, as the Government weighs up its decision on how, and how fast, to make the switch to 100% EVs. Climate Week NYC is also run by the Climate Group 

* Note: The coalition members recognize there will need to be exceptions for the small number of vehicles where this may not be possible, such as highly specialist vehicles. 

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