Transport and energy sectors respond to PM’s backtracking on green policies

Professionals from across the transport and energy sectors have condemned the Government’s watering down of key green policies – including delaying the ban on the sales of new petrol and diesel cars to 2035.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has ditched the 2030 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles, rolling it back until 2035.

He also said there would be no new taxes on meat or flights, and weakened targets on improving energy efficiency and the phasing out of fossil fuel boilers.

Below, is a round-up of reaction to his speech:

Baroness Parminter, Chair of the House of Lords Environment and Climate Change Committee, said:

“I am dismayed by the announcement and will be writing to the Prime Minister, on behalf of the committee, outlining our concerns and seeking clarification on his roadmap to net zero.  

”The overwhelming evidence we have received so far in our current Electric Vehicles (EVs) inquiry is that both industry and the public need policy certainty, consistency, and clear leadership on the journey to net zero. We had that same message from stakeholders consistently in our previous inquiries into the Boiler Upgrade Scheme and into behaviour change needed to meet carbon reduction goals.

”The target to end the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2030 was welcomed by all the industry we took evidence from. It is they who are crucial in providing the low-carbon products and services we need to get to net zero.

”Given a third of all emission reductions required by 2035 need to come from individuals and households adopting new technologies, choosing low-carbon products or services and reducing carbon-intensive consumption it is hard to see how our legally-binding carbon targets will now be met.

”The Prime Minister’s change of direction and delaying targets for EVs and heat pumps mean that the Government will not provide the leadership, certainty or consistency needed. He has chosen to kick the can down the road, rather than pick it up and put it in the recycling bin.  

”We welcome the incentive to encourage people to buy heat pumps by increasing the size of the Boiler Upgrade Scheme. We need incentives in other policy areas like EVs, so our inquiry into Electric Vehicles will continue and our recommendations will take stock both of these disappointing developments today and the need to address barriers to their uptake.”     

Liam Griffin, CEO at Addison Lee, commented:

“As a leader in the transition to electric, we know how difficult the shift has been for businesses looking to create a greener London. The reliability and availability of charging infrastructure continues to be the most significant barrier.

”Where charging providers once had confidence that a 2030 ban meant a guaranteed increase in the number of electric vehicles on the road – and therefore a greater need for charging provision across the city – they no longer have this assurance, putting the roll-out of further infrastructure at risk.

”Pulling back on the 2030 commitment reduces the ability of operators to confidently invest in the transition. Similarly, in London, the removal of financial incentives – such as the electric vehicle exemptions within London’s Congestion Zone – will deter many from moving to EVs and slow the reduction of air pollution across the capital.”

Zemo Partnership said:

” While we welcome the Government’s reaffirmed commitment to Net Zero by 2050 we’re concerned that the signals these changes send to business and investors could jeopardise both our ability to meet climate targets and to harvest the huge economic opportunities that the transition offers for Britain’s automotive and associated industries.

“Industry and investors (and consumers) need policy consistency and certainty to deliver the best outcomes for UK Plc.  The revised 2035 phase-out deadline represents a watering down of the hybrid car requirements from 2030 (which had not been defined anyway) but still puts the UK in line with EU countries zero tailpipe emission targets for cars. However, the lack of detail of the trajectory (through the ZEV Mandate) for cars and the absence of any mention for other vehicles or for renewable fuels, continues to leave very worrying gaps in the net zero transport agenda, with transport acknowledged as one of the most urgent and challenging sectors to decarbonise.

“Along with many of our 250+ member organisations, Zemo will be looking closely for ‘devils in the details’ in policies that will follow these high-level announcements. We will be doubling down on our activity to bring all stakeholders together to accelerate the transition to net zero transport together.”

Ashley Tate, MD of Allstar Chargepass UK, said:

“The car industry appears to be rallying against the Government, and we understand why. The lack of certainty is unsettling for businesses, but will it really change the course of the transition? We don’t think so. The shift to EVs is happening whether we like it or not – there will be lots of twists and turns ahead, not to mention the upcoming general election next year. But none of this will deter the industry

“Car manufacturers are already committed to 2030 deadlines, most have changed their production lines and business models and have plans to stop manufacturing ICEvehicles. Ford has come out stating it’s keeping on track. UK businesses are demonstrating their commitment and the majority of car manufacturers are equally taking the role to net zero seriously. Not only that, they understand the role they play in meeting increased demand for EVs – the consumer shift is already happening so this will continue to influence things in more ways than one.

“The BIK benefit is the main driver behind EV adoption amongst company car drivers, regardless of what the Government does with the deadline, businesses are pushing ahead. There’s more preference for EVs than ever before, and as a company helping to spearhead the EV transition in fleets, we’ll continue to serve that demand.”

CEO of EO Charging, Charlie Jardine, said:

“The move from big oil to electric is crucial for our planet. Huge strides have been made in recent years to electrify vehicles for individuals, commercial van fleets and public transport despite the historic lack of critical planning from the government. A clear target has motivated and enabled businesses to raise investment and develop and build new products that are critical to drive net zero.

”Uncertainty and change in policy will only serve to slow or even reverse this progress hindering the development of the green economy. This is an unnecessary delay to reducing emissions and fails to capitalise on the world leading work to decarbonise UK electricity generation.We would urge that the 2030 deadline remains in place, global warming isn’t slowing down neither should the push to fight against it. Despite this change in policy, we will continue to work with our industry and financial partners to ensure that the roll out continues at the current pace.”

Nick Woolley, CEO,, comments:

”Scrapping the 2030 target puts more money in the coffers of oil companies and increases costs for the motoring public. To decarbonise, we need to accelerate the transition everywhere, all at once – extending the life of fossil fuels in vehicles by 5 years is completely the wrong approach.

54% of the UK public want to switch to an electric car before the 2030 ban – so  ‘people’s consent’ is not the issue, nor is the grid.

“Yesterday the grid ran with a new green record, with only 14.5% of generation coming from gas, and we’ll soon see gas disappear completely and the grid becoming 100% green. So why are we not seizing this opportunity to fuel transport with green electrons?

“The great thing about EVs is they help us accelerate faster, integrating more renewable energy – as they can be used as flexible demand, matching the intermittencies of wind and solar. Powering EVs with wind and solar is also cheap, saving  drivers hundreds of pounds a year, and if employed at scale, would help save an additional 2 million metric tonnes of carbon being released into the atmosphere.

“We need the Government to keep firm on their commitments, and get behind accelerating the transition, everywhere. Banning new sales by 2030 isn’t fast enough, and pushing it to 2035 is embarrassing. I want my kids to grow up in a society without air pollution, and where we are tempering the effects of climate change. Humanity is amazing when singularly focussed on one goal: we should make that goal decarbonising as rapidly as possible, not prolonging the interests of dangerous oil and gas companies.

“Focus on providing fair access to those worse off so that EVs don’t just benefit the rich. Let’s make sure everyone can connect to the grid together, not just those who are ready first.”

Steve Nash, CEO of the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) responds to the government’s shift of the 2030 ban on the sale of new ICE vehicles to 2035:

“The announcement by Rishi Sunak, whilst not surprising, significantly under-estimates the hard work and commitment those in the automotive sector have already shown to meet the 2030 target. There’s now a serious risk that businesses and individuals will take their foot off the pedal and the great success the IMI has had in engaging the industry to commit to investment in EV skills will lose momentum.

“The deadline shift also demonstrates a distinct lack of understanding of the pressures a multi-technology vehicle parc places on the automotive workforce. 

“The upskilling that has already taken place has come at a financial strain which businesses and individuals have justified because of the expected increased EV adoption. Even if EV uptake slows over the next few years, there will still need to be a concerted focus on upskilling to meet the needs of the growing parc as well as other emerging technologies such as connected and autonomous. However, with the ICE vehicle parc not diminishing as had been previously expected, the skills to work on petrol and diesel vehicles will also need to be maintained.  And this multi-technology pressure could undermine access to competent and fairly priced aftermarket services as a whole, not only threatening road safety in general but hitting those struggling with cost of living pressures hardest – the very group the government’s announcement is allegedly designed to help.

“It is absolutely crucial that the shift to 2035 is NOT seen as a ‘free pass’ to delay investment in infrastructure and training. Therefore, having made this change, the government must now understand the multiple challenges the sector faces and provide the right support to ensure the UK economy and wider society can continue to rely on the automotive sector. 

“We look forward to working with government to inform and understand how this can be achieved.”

Dr Nina Skorupska CBE, Chief Executive of the REA (Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology) said:

“While badged as a ‘pragmatic response’ to the cost-of-living crisis and the UK’s (undoubted) good progress to date on cutting emissions, it is hard not to see today’s news as a retrograde step arguably designed to play to the PM’s base before party-conference season and pre-election. Furthermore, Sunak feeds into the ongoing misguided media rhetoric of “net zero extremists” picking high profile policies to roll back on in the hope to garner votes, while leaving the industry a few positive measures through an effective repackaging of ongoing commitments.

“The renewables and clean tech industry have long called on government to support all households in the energy transition. This could have been achieved through more consistent policies over the last five years, and today’s statements mark an admission of government’s previous failures.

“The purpose of long-term targets is to allow time for people to make the transition and for government to support them in doing so, and delays risk making the transition more expensive, while damaging UK competitiveness in terms of green investment. It is curious as to how government intends for the UK to remain a world leader by retracting on commitments – Industry urgently requires details on the Prime Minister’s new approach as a whole.

“The EV industry will particularly be looking towards more ambitious and favourable international markets.

“In addition, the throwaway statement of not “forcing” the general public “to have seven different bins” causes further concern of rollbacks on recycling infrastructure and ambitions. It is essential that government still deliver on consistency of waste collections and ensure the separation of food and garden waste, as was committed to over two years ago.

“We of course remain fully open to working with Government on the delivery of our legally binding net zero targets, including making the most of the expanded Boiler Upgrade Scheme. The REA will however be holding government to account to see net zero really delivered.”

Lawrence Slade, Chief Executive of Energy Networks Association, said:

“Delivering world-class energy infrastructure and ensuring our energy networks remain fit for the future requires policy and regulatory clarity. The UK has an historically stable regulatory regime, which makes it so attractive to infrastructure investors. This needs to be matched by stability from policy makers on their long-term objectives, if the UK is to continue to having a leading role.

“We are working with the government and regulator to improve and accelerate grid connections, to support economic growth and decarbonisation. The connections queue is moving – we will connect 78,000 customer projects to the distribution network this year and nearly 34GW to the transmission system in the next two years.

“The networks are reforming the way projects connect to the grid, but success also relies on planning reforms, as the Electricity Networks Commissioner identified in his recent report. We have set out the changes we’d like to see on planning and hope to see progress here in the coming months as the government sets out further details on the announcement made today.”

Gerry Keaney, BVRLA Chief Executive, said: 

“Today’s announcement will frustrate many while offering relief to others. Those that have made huge financial and strategic investments in this technology and mobilised their customers and workforces for decarbonisation will be worried that Government is applying the brakes. 

“Others will be grateful for the extra breathing space this delay provides. They will be hoping that it gives more time for costs to come down and consumer attitudes to change. 

“We await the further details that will show the true impact of today’s announcement. It is important that progress isn’t paused and momentum can be maintained. Either way, everyone is likely to have less trust in the Government’s Net Zero strategy and will think a lot harder before committing to any of its future strategies or roadmaps.” 

Asif Ghafoor, CEO and co-founder of Northern charging network Be.EV, said:

“The announcement to push the ICE ban back to 2035 is the polar opposite to the ambition and bold strategy we need to see from the government right now.

“You can’t help but think the Prime Minister looked at the net zero plan and thought ‘that’s going to be a bit hard’, so chose to abandon it.

“The cold reality is Sunak needed to face up to the challenge – and to do so with conviction. The world is going through a major industrial shift – no one ever said it was going to be easy.

“At such an important time, the government should be leading the charge, creating jobs and opportunities and attracting investment to this country. Instead they are changing dates, generating uncertainty and demonstrating a total lack of ambition and courage in their vision for the country’s green future.

“The government is no longer leading Britain’s net zero transition. Their internal squabbles and indecisiveness have created a total loss of faith in any new measures or goals they announce. It will now fall on the public to drive the changes they want to see and the market to respond to that demand.

“For the EV industry, we have to push on with business as usual. The EV transition is happening – that horse has well and truly bolted. 

“The rate at which consumers have adopted EVs has been faster than predicted. The British public is motivated to see a better, cleaner future for their kids and that will continue to provide some positive momentum to the transition. 

“Car manufacturers are already globally invested in the EV transition, many have already made commitments to completely transition their production to 100% EVs before 2030. 

“As an industry, our responsibility is now to the public, and to the public and private actors who are invested in this journey with us. At Be.EV, we will continue to play our part, supporting local councils and businesses to transform their communities, delivering the quality infrastructure needed to serve public demand and decarbonise Britain’s transport once and for all.”

Tom Hurst, UK Country Manager at Fastned: 

“Cleaner transport isn’t just important for meeting the existential threat posed by climate change, but more immediately poor air quality is costing lives today. From being at the vanguard of the EV revolution, the UK risks becoming a dumping ground for polluting vehicles from elsewhere.

“It’s especially puzzling given the fierce global race for green investment that the UK is already trying to compete in. Targets help secure investment, and as the UK lead of a European company with millions to invest in charging infrastructure it’s frustrating that in addition to byzantine planning rules and red tape for grid connections, there is now another hurdle in the way.”

VEV CEO Mike Nakran said:

“The decision to row back from the now three-years-old commitment to the 2030 timeline is the opposite of what the auto industry needs to play its part in the race to net zero.  It is confusing an already confused situation, where the facts have been lost to politics and spin.

”At VEV we believe the existing 2030 and 2035 targets were sensible and provided a phased approach to reaching net zero.  Hybrid vehicles would still be sold post-2030 in any event, which makes this latest policy u-turn even more illogical and only adds further confusion.   

”Manufacturers, fleet operators and all those in supporting roles across infrastructure and related services have gathered at the starting line to make this journey to net zero.  What we need is certainty and support from Government to accelerate the race, not political prevarication. 

”To push the UK net zero journey plan a further five years down the track will only giving rise to inaction and procrastination.  This is not conducive to building a better Britain or environment.”

David Wells OBE, Chief Executive of business group Logistics UK said:

“Pushing back the deadlines to decarbonise, rather than making progress on the investment and policies logistics businesses need to implement the route to Net Zero, is unhelpful and will discourage private investment in the UK and its industries. There is still much to be done, from delivering a charging network to confirming plans for alternatively fuelled vehicles, but our industry remains committed to achieving Net Zero.

“As a sector, logistics works hard to deliver on time for all sectors of the economy – if new decarbonisation deadlines are to be achieved, it is vital for the health of the UK’s supply chain, and therefore our economy, that the government does the same. At a time when industry needs detail and action, delay just creates more uncertainty.”

Christopher Hammond, Chief Executive of the UK’s only cross-party network of local leaders committed to ambitious action on Net Zero and clean air, UK100, says: 

“The Prime Minister’s short-term election gamble will leave businesses and local communities dealing with the long-term consequences of higher bills, a less competitive economy and dirty air. 

“If the Prime Minister is serious about being honest about Net Zero, he should be clear that delaying action means we won’t deliver our climate goals. Standing still is more expensive in the long run.” 

Paul Hollick, chair, AFP, said:

“While some of our members will be pleased about this because it takes the pressure to electrify away for the time being, the reaction that we are seeing across the fleet sector to this news is largely negative. The motor industry and their fleet customers have invested billions towards meeting the 2030 electrification deadline and while there are serious operational issues that need to be tackled, especially when it comes to electric vans, the assumption within our membership was that the government would need to provide more support, not move the goalposts.

“Where we go from here is difficult to say. The global motor industry doesn’t hinge on what the UK government does, so this is unlikely to do much to change future production plans away from electric vehicles (EVs) towards petrol and diesel while presumably, company car benefit in kind taxation will stay in its current form and continue to encourage fleets to electrify. In 2030, the vast majority of new cars on sale in the UK, and a substantial element of the used car parc, will almost certainly be battery powered.

“The overwhelming feeling is probably one of irritation. Fleets have done some incredible work when it comes to electrification and it feels as though the can has been kicked down the road in a fairly arbitrary fashion by a government that sees this move as politically expedient. There are, of course, a range of dangers. The value of existing EVs may be negatively affected; investment in charging infrastructure may fall away; and there may just be something of a manyana environment around electrification for the next few years. However, this must be resisted and it is especially important the local authorities are properly funded to ensure the installation of on-street chargers becomes widespread.”

Philip Nothard, chair, Vehicle Remarketing Association, said:

“It’s very difficult to walk away from this announcement and not conclude that the whole thing is something of a mess. While it is fair to say that within remarketing, there are many sceptics who have serious doubts about the present viability of EVs in the used car market, almost everyone in the sector has still been working towards the 2030 deadline in a diligent and committed manner, often making substantial investments along the way. The government’s move today has, from the feedback we’ve seen, left many of those people feeling confused and resentful.

“The government’s argument is that this five-year delay will allow more time for electrification to take place and reduce costs to private motorists, but that shows a fundamental misunderstanding of how the motor industry works. Many or most of the decisions about the cars and vans on sale in the UK in 2030 have already been finalised, and have been made based on global factors. What the UK prime minister has done today will change little in terms of the new and used cars being sold here during the next decade or more.

“In the shorter term, it is possible that this move will bring more disruption to the values of electric vehicles (EVs), purely because buyers will be confused about where the market is heading which, in turn, will reduce the appetite for electrification, creating a kind of negative feedback loop.”

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