Unite called on the chancellor Philip Hammond to rule out rumoured cuts to subsidies for electric vehicles amid yesterday’s (October 8) climate change warnings from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
The landmark IPCC report says that urgent and unprecedented changes are needed to cut emissions during the next 12 years to avoid the risk of extreme heat, drought, floods and poverty.
The authors lay out four pathways to ensure that global warming is kept to a maximum of 1.5C, all of which include the shift to electric transport systems.
Keeping warming to 1.5C would ensure some survival of coral reefs, reduce instances of the Artic Ocean being free of summer sea ice to once a century rather than every decade or more, preserve insect populations vital to pollination and lower food and water scarcity.
Professor Corinne Le Quere of the University of East Anglia’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, one of the institutions that helped author the report, said the UK’s transport systems need urgent development if warming is to be kept at 1.5C.
She said, “The message could not be clearer. Widespread, concerted and sustained action across the economy is needed to cut carbon emissions down to zero and limit the risks of a warming climate. For the UK, this means a rapid switch to renewable energy and electric cars.”
The IPCC’s warning follows reports that the government is planning to cut grants for electric vehicles while abolishing the £2,500 grant for hybrid plug-in vehicles altogether.
Describing the rumoured cuts as ‘ludicrous’, Unite warned that the changes would add thousands of pounds to the price of electric and hybrid vehicles, significantly undermine the drive to electric and hit government targets to reduce emissions.
Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke said, “The UK government needs to be sprinting to catch up with the rest of the world on electric vehicles, yet ministers seem to be happy to not even break into a stroll.
“With dire warnings on the need to tackle climate change it is ludicrous that the government is toying with cutting support for electric and alternative powered vehicles.
“As the car industry struggles in the face of government confusion over diesel and ministers’ shambolic handling of Brexit, the last thing car workers need is yet more confusion and uncertainty.”
Burke called on Hammond to use the budget to back the car industry and rule out cuts for electric vehicles.
“(Hammond) needs to signal that the government will make the massive investment needed in infrastructure as part of a transition – that supports jobs – to electric and alternatively powered vehicles,” said Burke.
“Anything less will leave the Conservative government’s green credentials in tatters and strip the UK of the opportunity to be a global leader in electric and alternatively powered vehicles.”