Impact of electric cars on environment cancelled out by SUVs

The government has helped fund 140,000 charge points for electric cars. Credit: PA

Despite the increase in popularity of electric and hybrid cars in the UK, carbon emissions have fallen by just 1% since 2011. 

According to the National Audit Office, the number of SUV’s on the road and an increase in traffic has cancelled out anticipated reductions from low-emission cars. 

There is still a considerable amount of work to do in order for the government to achieve their target of cars emitting no carbon by 2050. 

Plug-in cars accounted for one in every 10 sales last year, as 108,205 electric vehicles were sold in the UK.

Sales of cars powered solely by petrol or diesel will be banned by 2030 as part of plans to reduce emissions from the 67.9m tonnes of CO2 equivalent which was pumped out by cars in 2018, amounting to a fifth of the total emissions in the UK that year. 

Jaguar Land Rover aims to be all-electric by 2030. Credit: PA

Additionally, zero-emission cars will only be permitted to be sold from 2035.

A 2013 paper from the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) predicted there would be a 10 million tonnes drop off from 2010 to 2020. 

Despite emissions from cars falling by 13% between 2011 and 2016, there was an increase of 6% in the following three years. 

The report said: “The recent increase has been ascribed to several factors, which have cancelled out the reductions from ultra-low-emission cars.

"These include a rise in the sale of sports utility vehicles, increased road traffic and travel by car, and revised methods for estimating carbon emissions.”

A London traffic jam. Credit: PA

The government have already helped fund the installation of 140,000 charge points, which are mainly on private driveways, limiting the number of people who have access to one.

A Department for Transport spokeswoman told the Guardian: “This government is going further and faster to decarbonise transport by phasing out the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030.“Ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs) now represent nearly 11% of the new car market. Alongside the billions we are investing to support industry and consumers to make the switch to cleaner vehicles, we are proud to be a global leader in the development and manufacture of ULEVs.“We will set out a plan later this year on how we will deliver these new ambitious phase out dates.”