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Spectator Briefing

What does the future of low-carbon motoring look like?

27 November 2018

8:00 AM

27 November 2018

8:00 AM

What will transport look like in the year 3000? Busted thought we would live underwater, but perhaps we’ll have even figured out zero carbon travelling. Recently, the government made its own prediction in the form of the ‘Road to Zero’ strategy – new petrol and diesel cars are to be banned by 2040.

This is the latest in a series of downright inconsistent advice from the government on pollution. In the late 80s and 90s, diesel was explicitly encouraged and diesel cars subsidised. More recently, the goal posts have changed and diesel is the latest enemy. But at a time when overall CO2 emissions are actually falling (to levels found in the 1890s, no less), and renewable fuels are getting ever cheaper, is this another example of the government ‘helping’ unhelpfully?


We posed the question to a panel of the leading voices of authority in the debate in a special podcast, sponsored by Shell. The resounding answer was in fact – no, government direction is helpful, in this at least.

Fraser Nelson spoke to Edmund King, the President of the AA and the voice of British motorists; Chris Stark, chief executive of the Climate Change Committee, an independent organisation that reviews government policies on the environment; and Sinead Lynch, Shell’s UK Country Chair. In a incisive half an hour chat, they talk about the big challenges facing low carbon transport today – the nation-wide lack of infrastructure for charging electric vehicles, the possibility of using hydrogen – yes, really – as an alternative to petrol, and the helpfulness of government targets. Sinead Lynch argued that state direction is pretty beneficial for private actors – now they know what to invest in. Accordingly, Shell is hugely excited about the latest additions to their repertoire: projects on electric and hydrogen in the UK, and even biofuel elsewhere in the world. Do give this podcast a listen.


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