The upcoming 2030 ban on new petrol and diesel cars will transform UK motoring on a scale never seen before. This story is part of a wider analysis of the challenges faced by consumers, government and the automotive industry, what needs to happen, and how such drastic changes can be achieved over the next decade.
Read the rest of this series here: Countdown to year zero – what needs to happen by 2030?
When the UK set its 2050 net zero target, Skidmore claimed that it would position the country to seize the economic opportunities of becoming a greener economy. He claimed that the policy could create two million “green-collar jobs” and lead to related exports valued at £170bn per year by 2030.
According to ONS, the UK low-carbon and renewable energy economy (LCREE) produced £46.7bn of turnover in 2018, up from £40.4bn in 2015, and accounted for 224,800 full-time jobs. For comparison, the SMMT estimates that the UK car industry to generate turnover of £78.9bn and account for 864,300 jobs.
The ONS data showed that UK LCREE exports were worth £5.3bn (of which the low-emission vehicles sector contributed 59%), accounting for around 1% of the UK’s non-financial turnover and employment.
That’s still a relatively minor level, but the UK government’s hope is that by taking a lead in such technology, it will attract interest and investment from international businesses and other governments tapping into UK-developed technology to cut their CO2 emissions. It would be comparable to how the global tech industry remains centred on Silicon Valley in the US and Formula 1 teams are clustered in the UK’s ‘motorsport valley’.
Research from the Green Alliance suggests that the UK has the sixth-largest low-carbon and environmental goods and services market, behind the US, China, Japan, India and Germany, and is one of the top 10 countries for global investment in renewable energy. It also found that Britain currently has a green industry trade surplus, with green business accounting for substantially more exports than imports. That includes £275m worth of exports from alternatively fuelled vehicles.
Of course, Britain’s relatively small contribution to global CO2 emissions is reflective of its small size and production base compared with the likes of the US and China. That makes acting first to build a lead in knowledge and skills vital – and similar to how the UK became a global player in the industrial revolution.