Incentivising EVs suggested to reduce coronavirus impact
Electric vehicle tax breaks, scrappage schemes and extended emissions zones have all been proposed to reduce the likelihood of a second wave of coronavirus in the All-Party Parliamentary Group Air Pollution’s (APPG Air Pollution) latest document; Air Quality Strategy to Reduce Coronavirus Infection.
The Air Quality Strategy document recognises the importance the global lockdown has played in transforming, “the way we have lived, worked and interacted with each other and, in that process, significantly reduced air pollution.”
The document states that there is a connection between cleaner air and a reduction of COVID-19 risk – emerging evidence suggests that short term exposure to air pollution increases the risk of coronavirus infection – underlining the importance of a comprehensive air quality strategy as we emerge from lockdown. This is in addition to premature death figures for Europe of 470,000 each year pre lockdown attributable to air pollution – including 64,000 in the UK, and with poor health related to air pollution estimated to cost £20bn each year in the UK alone.
Geraint Davies, chair of the APPG Air Pollution, said: “Air pollution may also carry the virus further afield. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine finds the virus can remain infectious and airborne for hours and explores how pollution may transport coronavirus through the air. It is therefore essential that the government ensures pollution remains low.”
The proposals cover many topics, including bringing forward the ban on new fossil fuel engines to 2030 at the latest, incentivising electric vehicles by accelerating their infrastructure rollout and reducing vehicle excise duty for EVs to zero, along with the introduction of scrappage schemes and extending emission zones. These are just some of the suggestions being put to government, which the APPG Air Pollution concede include both immediate and longer term solutions.
Other inclusions are as follows:
- Remote working where-ever possible
- Stagger business and school hours
- Encourage businesses to create sustainable mobility plans
- Offer furloughed workers training, from IT training to cycling proficiency, to supports green working and transport
Cycling and Pedestrianisation
- Repurpose traffic lanes and parking spaces for cycling and wider footways
- Extend bike sharing schemes
- Invest in cycle lanes
- Increase service frequency to keep passenger density low
- Prioritise transport worker testing and testing at public transport entry points
- Support for the conversion of bus fleets to electric/hydrogen
- Roll-out rail electrification and electric infrastructure for boat and ferry transport
- Extend the Low Emission Zone, Ultra Low Emission Zone and Congestion Zone in UK cities
- Accelerate electric vehicle rollouts and infrastructure
- Introduce vehicle scrappage schemes for the older vehicles
- Accelerate the electrification of diesel taxis
- Reduce or establish zero vehicle excise duty for electric or hydrogen vehicles
- Bring forward ban on new fossil fuel engines to 2030 at the latest
Further topics include face masks, wood and coal burning, agriculture, and home delivery services – the latter suggesting the electrification of delivery vehicles.
The Mayor of London said, “By ensuring our city’s recovery is green, we will also tackle our toxic air which is vital to make sure we don’t replace one public health crisis with another.”
“In the UK there are 7.5million diesel cars and vans fitted with diesel particle filters that produce particles so small they’re not picked up by standard road tests. This omission is especially worrying because it is the smallest particles that have the greatest health concerns,” commented Greg Archer, UK director for transport and environment.
The full Strategy can be found here: https://appgaq.files.wordpress.com/2020/05/clean-air-exit-strategy.pdf