An industry-led Electric Vehicle Governance Framework (EVGF) could facilitate the ambition we need to move forward the EV revolution, writes Joachim Brandt, head of electric vehicles, Gemserv.
While Extinction Rebellion has drummed up extensive headlines about the climate emergency their protest blocking major roads and gridlocking traffic in London has highlighted some unintended consequences in relation to air pollution. Analysis by King’s College London found air quality had improved close to the protest locations. In fact, poor air quality is shortening lives all over the UK. Around 2,000 locations across England, Wales and Northern Ireland have recorded unsafe levels of air pollution, with London reaching the annual legal limit for 2018 within the first month.
Carbon emissions are also impacting our lives through the effects of climate change, yet the UK remains off track to meet legally binding carbon targets, and global emissions are struggling to meet the Paris Agreement to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
These are two of the greatest challenges of our time. But thankfully human ingenuity and advances in technology hold a significant part of the answer: a large scale and swift transition away from the internal combustion engine (ICE) towards electric vehicles (EVs).
With almost a month passing since the introduction of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in London what measures are now required to generate a seismic shift by all stakeholders to speed up the transition to cleaner and greener transport?
Despite EVs representing a clear solution, the government is accused of being ‘vague and insufficiently ambitious’ over its plans to phase out sales of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040. This is against a background of growing demand for road travel continues, with sales of diesel and petrol cars still dominating the market. As such, transport has subsequently grown as a share of overall emissions while other sectors have reduced, according to the Committee on Climate Change.
Thankfully, the dominance of ICE powered vehicles is predicted to decline, with EV sales overtaking petrol and diesel sales by the late 2030s. But in order for this transition to achieve scale and longevity, the EV industry needs to step up. Being too slow to overcome the challenges hindering the rapid upscaling of EVs and missing the opportunity to be a global leader in achieving cleaner air poses a massive risk to the economy, and to the health of millions.
But this is no mean feat. For the UK to emerge as a leader, we would need to electrify 320 billion miles travelled on the country’s roads every year and there is a real risk that the UK will struggle to meet the demands of this rapid growth, potentially losing out on the economic opportunities as other countries race to be the global leader for EVs.
The market needs to scale up very quickly, but a siloed sector-driven approach is not going to succeed as there are too many interdependencies that need to be coordinated. Government and industry, therefore, must work together to build market governance arrangements that are informed by experts and other key actors to address what needs to be done.
The pace of change needed is impossible without the government working with the industry, and without market intervention that is agile and consensus-driven. I believe that a combination of framework regulation and industry-led self-governance is what is required to best support the transition to EVs.
That’s why I’m encouraging stakeholders to input their views into a market-wide consultation for an industry-led Electric Vehicle Governance Framework (EVGF). The results of this will help enable cross-sector collaboration and a coordinated approach on issues like standardisation, interoperability, data sharing, smart charging and customer protections.
The EVGF will help facilitate the industry to form a consensus on what needs to be done by market actors to deliver tangible, coherent and sustained benefits for consumers and industry, with the aim of reaching the government’s target of all new cars and vans being zero emission by 2040.
The EVGF will allow everyone within the industry to collaborate in shaping the market to scale up the uptake of EVs. It is hoped the framework, which will comprise a digital marketplace, a digital compliance tool, and overseen by an industry-led forum, will instil confidence, address failures in the current market arrangements and help realise the full benefits of the EV revolution. It is expected to deliver leadership and offer a single industry voice to address interdependencies and compliance in the market.
Importantly, the EVGF will be industry-led, and can avoid the need for government and regulators to intervene in the market in a prescriptive way which can often result in slow and inflexible regulation unable to adequately support a rapidly evolving market.
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