Turning our gas-fuelled economy around is going to be a challenging project, according to the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), Britain’s leading think tank. Meeting targets for climate change means that by 2020, at least 1.7 million vehicles would need to be electric or plug-in hybrids. In order to make this kind of transition, several moves need to be made on the part of both private and government agencies.
The director of IPPR, Nick Pierce, said that a target of 95g/km needs to be set for 2020, and if the UK is going to lead the way in the environmental movement, maximum support for research and development in the field will be required. He said the UK needs “an active industrial strategy” that backs and encourages such developments.
The big catch is that meeting the emission-control targets also means the government will lose around £10 billion in revenue from fuel taxes by 2030. The suggestion is that charges for road use will have to be introduced to make up for the loss to the Treasury, but that has to be done very carefully.
IPPR has advised that the government should try to build on existing plans for road-use charges on heavy goods vehicles (HGV’s) by testing pay-as-you-go programmes on passenger vehicles by 2015.
That scheme would allow drivers to opt for a distance-based charge as opposed to paying fuel duty.
They also suggested that by 2013 the government should instigate a new ‘feebate’ that would encourage the purchase of vehicles with low carbon emissions, to be paid from revenues gained by charging fees to drivers of high-emission vehicles. Partnerships between government and private enterprise in the installation of charging stations would also help to alleviate consumers’ worries about a limited driving range for electric vehicles.