Where do we go from here?
08 February 2024
By Stephen Haddrill, Director General
A crossroads with no signpost – that seems to be where we are on the route to Net Zero.
The Finance & Leasing Association (FLA) has been concerned for some time about the general level of Government commitment to green priorities. We’re not alone.
The House of Lords Environment and Climate Change Committee’s report; EV strategy; rapid recharge needed, highlighted what we described as ‘a sense of drift’ in the operation of the Government’s Rapid Charging Fund (RCF).
We noted that although it was first announced in March 2020, it still had not opened for applications by the time of our submission in September 2023.
Since drawing-down on this fund is the only financially viable way to install additional transformers along the UK’s strategic network for fast charging at motorway services, the lack of progress perpetuates consumers’ lack of confidence about being able to charge their vehicles, no matter how far they are travelling.
This is a hugely important issue because although most journeys are short jaunts around town, the vehicle on your driveway will also be the one you rely on if you need to collect the kids from their distant university towns or get to elderly relatives in an emergency situation.
Achieving a smooth EV transition means increasing numbers of consumers moving to cleaner and greener vehicles each year. They will not move if the practicalities of ownership are not addressed by upgrading the charging network, and if the car market and prices continue to go up and down with unstable policies – they’ll stick with what they know.
But lack of commitment on green issues isn’t simply a government trait. It’s being reported that Labour will scrap its £28bn Green Prosperity Plan because there are other more pressing priorities.
If there is a change of power at the General Election, where does this leave us on the legally binding commitment of Net Zero by 2050?
If there is no change of power at the General Election, where does this leave us on the legally binding commitment of Net Zero by 2050?
So, here we stand at the crossroads…looking left to right and right to left at the different paths.
Each political party will have to set out a fully costed, and credible manifesto so that voters can choose what best aligns to their own main concern. As climate change is the ‘greatest threat to the planet’ according to both parties, surely it deserves to have top billing in terms of policy and funding. It is extraordinary that that looks increasingly unlikely. The Grand Old Duke of York would be proud of Westminster today.
The House of Lords Environment and Climate Change Committee report, EV Strategy: rapid recharge needed
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Now more than ever Government needs to avoid becoming trapped in the here and now. It must show anticipation and vision. That is not at all easy given the need to tackle so many short term problems against a backdrop of uncertainty about what the next months will bring. So it’s good that major long term priorities such as net zero, raising productivity and levelling up across the country are still being addressed. These are goals that the FLA wholly supports and we look forward to the coming spending review showing vision in taking them forward...
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After the turbulence of recent months, we now have a Government with a mandate to govern for a full term – and the numbers to get business through the House of Commons.
That list of business is very long, and of course begins with negotiating a rather tricky post-Brexit trade deal, not to mention a brewing storm about the unity of the UK. As strong as the SNP are in Scotland, their influence in Westminster has been blown away by the size of the Conservative majority. And what about unity more generally? Some basis for co-existence between leavers and remainers needs to be found.
So, what are the implications of the General Election results for the financial services sector and FLA members in particular?