With eight days left before the UK goes to the polls to (hopefully) elect a new government, the issue of the climate crisis demands serious and sustained focus from the electorate. The UK is currently committed to carbon neutrality by 2050.
Setting aside the fact that scientists are warning that we’ve already passed a significant tipping point in the climate crisis, if the UK is to honour its obligations to reduce its carbon emissions in line with the goals set by the Paris Accords in 2016, large swathes of the country’s economy are going to need drastic transformation.
One area that shows promise as both a source of economic growth and as a driver of emissions reduction is widespread electric vehicle (EV) adoption. So far in the UK, EVs make up just 1.4% of all vehicles on the road, although sales increased by an impressive 151.8% in October, and interest continues to grow.
Currently, Peterborough, Birmingham and the City of London lead the country in terms of EV adoption. Birmingham has the most EVs registered in the city (more than 17,700), the City of London has the highest rate of adoption (5.58%), and Peterborough has the second highest number of cars (10,979) and adoption rate (5.22%).
As electric cars get cheaper and develop longer ranges, adoption continues to grow. Infrastructural concessions, like the fact grocery brand Tesco is set to offer free EV charging at over 2,400 points across 100 locations in the UK, are also set to reduce anxiety over battery performance.
Whichever party wins this election, its stance on mass EV adoption - and by extension, battery and other EV parts manufacturing - will be a crucial axis of a successful climate policy. Labour’s Green New Deal, for example, will accelerate the UK’s movement towards carbon neutrality by 20 years and large scale investment in renewables.
“As the demand for batteries continues to rise, leading British manufacturers like ourselves are hoping the winning party will follow through on promises to dedicate investment towards green automotive technologies. The UK’s economy can be boosted with manufacturers who are able to keep up with the huge expansion of this market and create jobs,” commented Kevin Brundish, CEO of electric vehicle battery manufacturer AGM Batteries.
“The electrification of vehicles is a crucial factor in achieving the UK’s carbon neutral 2050 targets. In order to meet the unprecedented demand for electric vehicle battery production, the UK will need the equivalent of a staggering eight 15GWh Gigafactories by 2040,” he continues. “Battery supply for the UK manufacturing industry is already struggling to meet demand, and in response, the UK Government should continue to prioritise the creation of onshore full cycle battery plants instead of relying on large scale manufacturers abroad. It is costly and increases carbon footprint to have these batteries imported, especially when the UK has the talent and capabilities at home. Creating a robust UK supply chain for the production of lithium-ion batteries would strengthen the UK’s car industry, making the country an attractive destination for international car-makers.”