What will COP26 mean for vehicle emissions?


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The automotive industry is a huge contributor towards global greenhouse gas emissions. Road transport accounts for 10% of the world’s emissions and CO2 emissions from transport are set to increase 16% by 2050, even if current commitments are fully met.  

The decarbonisation of transport, electric vehicles (EVs) and accelerated zero emissions commitments are hot topics at COP26, which is currently taking place in Glasgow.   Ahead of the United Nations climate change conference, Ofgem set out how it aims to support the rollout of electric vehicles in Britain. By removing existing barriers, Ofgem – which is the energy regulator for Great Britain – plans to:  

  • Ensure the energy network is prepared for EV uptake (e.g. introducing new charge points). 
  • Make connections to the energy network easier (e.g. to bring down the costs for large users, such as electric vehicle charging stations).  
  • Maximise the benefits of smart charging to enable EV owners to fuel their vehicles for less money.
  • Work to support the development of vehicle-to-grid, allowing EV owners to earn money by exporting electricity back from their car battery to the grid.
  • Help drivers switch to EVs.  

Ofgem’s plans come as the number of EVs on the road in the UK is set to increase dramatically, with some projecting that there may be as many as 14 million by 2030, up from half a million in 2021. Vehicle manufacturer’s reluctance to switch production to EVs may also soon fall away. A new report has found that, by 2024, electric cars will cost the same to make as conventional models. In fact, some manufacturers, such as Volvo, have already committed to transitioning to electric-only fleets by 2030.  

The end of diesel vehicle emissions?

The EU historically saw diesel vehicles as a good way to lower CO2 emissions. This is because diesel vehicles often provide better mileage than equivalent petrol vehicles. As such, it was thought that diesel vehicles offered lower CO2 emissions and better fuel economy than their petrol counterparts. In response, governments created tax regimes that favoured diesel cars and the diesel car market accelerated. However, since the Dieselgate scandal, this market has declined and momentum has shifted towards EVs. But is it happening fast enough?   

As it stands, there is likely to be a gradual phasing out of cars powered by conventional fuels with a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel-engine cars in the UK from 2030. In addition, many UK cities have plans to restrict or ban diesel vehicles from entering. Yet COP26 is bringing this issue further into focus, with calls on world leaders for much faster transport decarbonisation and accelerated zero emissions commitments. 

Of course, reduced air pollution limits are vital if we want to address the looming climate disaster and improve human health, but it doesn’t matter how stringent the legal limits are if manufacturers choose to ignore them. So, in addition to setting more stringent legal emissions standards, to truly make a difference, regulatory fines, awards of damages and costs of settlements must make the cost of cheating unviable.  By holding manufacturers to account, Keller Lenkner UK aims to help stop further emissions test cheating in the future and to force manufacturers to meet their responsibilities to consumers and the environment.  

Make a diesel emissions claim

At Keller Lenkner UK, we are holding vehicle manufacturers to account for cheating the system, harming the environment, and lying to their customers. If you own or lease a diesel vehicle (or have done in the past), use our quick online checker to see if you are eligible to claim.

In February 2024, our firm changed its name from Keller Postman UK to KP Law.

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