This week, the UK marks ten years of being the first country to adopt legislation on climate change. When the country adopted the UK Climate Change Act, it was the first law of its kind and the landmark legislation was a model for the rest of the world. It is imperative that the UK both celebrate and strengthen its laws given a recent World Bank Group report that estimates climate change could drive 140 million people to move within their countries’ borders by 2050. The Climate Change act introduced budgets, and incentives to decarbonise electricity and facilitate sustainable businesses around the UK. Ten years of the legislation is definitely as good a time as any to reflect on progress made and to contemplate critical next steps, especially in light of the latest climate change revelations.
London is the only city in the United Kingdom that is on track to meet the country’s electric vehicle target. The country set a target to decarbonise the UK road networks by 2050 and ensure that sale of diesel and petrol cars come to a halt before 2040. However, according to the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI), cities in the UK, with the exception of London, are falling behind on meeting the EV target, due to a lack of infrastructure. In addition to this, only 3% of vehicle technicians have the qualification and expertise to repair EVs. The wider availability of public charge points in London has been instrumental in keeping London on course to meet the UK targets. There are currently only 18,000 public charging points at 6,500 locations across the nation for owners to use and the largest proportion of these are in London.
Today’s announcement of the collaboration between Tesco, the UK’s largest supermarket chain, and Volkwagen is certainly a carbon footstep in the right direction. Both companies are partnering to install 2,500 charging bays for electric vehicles at up to 600 stores by 2020. This means customers can plug-in their electric vehicle for a free charge, while they get their weekly shopping done. VW has sold 1,350 of the two electric vehicles it has on the market, therefore this partnership is part of the vehicle manufacturer’s grander effort to offer an electric version of all its models by 2020. Podpoint is the company commissioned to build and install the charging facilities on behalf of VW and Tesco. Tesco and Volkswagen are leading by example and proving that a mix of public demand, sound policy and private sector initiatives the UK could cut down on emission and successfully meet its targets to decarbonise UK roads by 2050.