The pandemic is likely to have lasting effects on traditional business models as we adapt to homeworking, social distancing and see aspects of a public policy shift away from globalisation, writes Mark Richards, partner and co-leader for Energy, Environmental & Infrastructure at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP.
The transport sector has been hit hard, as airline operators wrestle with record slumps in demand, airports underutilised and traditional mass transit systems operators deal with a fraction of usual daily commuter passengers.
The need to socially distance has led to an increase in commuters utilising their cars to get to and from their workplaces, especially those keyworkers who are unable to undertake their jobs remotely. But these keyworkers are only a fraction of the typical commuters heading into our big cities, most are currently home working.
The combination of the lockdown imposed by the Government and continued homeworking has significantly reduced traffic volumes in our cities, which in turn has led to significant improvements in air quality and noise reduction.
Can these benefits be maintained and indeed accelerated through the adoption of zero-emission vehicles?
There are few industries enjoying double-digit growth in 2020, the EV sector is one of those – in July 2020 we have seen Tesla Inc. market capitalisation exceed Toyota, to become the largest car manufacturer in the world.
So in the UK with a push to net-zero by 2050, along with a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vans by 2035, is there more than can be done to accelerate the transition to zero-emission vehicles, especially if investment in industries supporting (and the adoption of) electrification of mobility is a COVID-19 recovery response?
The UK Government can already be commended for the recent tax incentives put in place to attract company car drivers to switch to electric vehicles, this comes after the UK Government’s commitment to the sector through its ‘Road to Zero’ strategy announced in July 2018, providing ambitious targets for a new car and van sales.
The Government continues to promote electric vehicle adoption and has enacted various pieces of legislation to promote the e-mobility transition including the Autonomous and Electric Vehicles Act 2018 and Alternative Fuels Directive/The Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulations 2017.
These pieces of legislation in most place focus on the conditions for creating electric vehicle charge points.
So, on balance, the current policies from the UK Government are creating a very positive ecosystem for the greater adoption of zero-emission vehicles, however, more can be done.
Read more: Air Quality News
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