Tesco has joined a group of large businesses including Dixons Carphone, E.ON, Heathrow, Lime and SSE that have called on the Government to bring forward the date for when new petrol and diesel vehicles should be banned from sale to 2030.
The Labour Party made a similar petition to the Government last week due to fears that without an accelerated timeframe the UK would fail to meet its climate targets of having a net-zero carbon economy by 2050.
The addition of Tesco, the UK’s largest supermarket, to the UK Electric Fleets Coalition could push the Government to adopt the policy, something it was already considering for a possible Autumn announcement, the Guardian reported.
The Coalition, which also includes firms such as BT, Natwest and Unilever, has already started work on electrifying over 400,000 of their own vehicles in the UK.
It said the Government changing the date alone “will not guarantee success” and called for policies to support UK manufacturing of battery electric vehicles to help the auto sector through the transition, extend financial incentives to further boost demand and invest further in rolling out charging points.
Helen Clarkson, CEO of international non-profit the Climate Group, which launched the UK Electric Fleets Coalition, said: “Only bold action can achieve the 50 per cent cut in emissions the world needs by 2030 and the UK, as host of upcoming UN climate talks, must set an example.
“More government action is needed to support manufacturing of EVs and to unlock infrastructure investment. Both come with a big dividend for UK jobs. We’re in the middle of [a] global recession – the climate can’t wait and our economy can’t wait.”
The UK automotive sector, which was already struggling due to Brexit, has taken a further battering since the start of the coronavirus lockdown, causing a 41.8 per cent fall in productivity in March alone.
Giles Bolton, responsible sourcing director, Tesco, said: “We are delighted to become signatories of the EV100 campaign, which brings together both our commitment to transition to 100 per cent electric vans and our plan to install EV chargers for Tesco customers and colleagues all over the UK.”
He said the electrification of transport was crucial to Tesco becoming a zero-carbon business by 2035 in the UK and 2050 globally.
A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “We want to build a greener transport system, reduce carbon emissions and boost economic growth in the UK, which is why we’re supporting the transition to zero-emission vehicles.
“Our £2.5bn programme to support grants for plug-in vehicles and funding for chargepoint infrastructure at homes, workplaces, on residential streets and across the wider roads network are all part of our world-leading package to encourage electric vehicle uptake.”
Mike Hawes, CEO for the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), said: “The range of electrified vehicles on the market today is ever increasing, but we need a fully funded strategy that mandates a massive investment in infrastructure, helps all consumers to make the switch and supports a competitive UK industry.
“Whilst we applaud ambition, pulling forward the phase-out date by a decade to 2030 could have a devastating impact on the UK automotive industry and jobs, with the equally unintended consequence of undermining sales of today’s low-emission technologies, which are needed to make environmental improvements now.”