Covid must not distract from goal of securing our green transport revolution

Ian Constance, Chief Executive of the Advanced Propulsion Centre, will claim that Covid-19 presents “the greatest challenge and the greatest opportunity” for the green transport sector as he speaks at the opening of the 13th annual Cenex Low Carbon Vehicle (Cenex-LCV) conference later today (18 November 2020). 

In a live ‘virtual’ address to delegates from across the low carbon community, Mr Constance will describe the development of new green transport technologies as a “generational challenge” that must not be disrupted by the current pandemic. 

He will point to research showing that the measures the UK takes now in developing new low-emission vehicles will define the UK’s emission output for nearly a quarter of a century, arguing that it will require sustained focus and investment during testing times to maintain progress. 

In particular, the Advanced Propulsion Centre has identified a golden window for UK manufacturers to take advantage of a potential electric car market worth up to £24 billion over the next five years, which would establish the LCV sector as a significant part of the UK economy. 

While acknowledging the major challenges facing UK industry due to the pandemic, Mr Constance will nonetheless claim that it could provide a significant “reset moment” for green energy, encouraging the public to further rethink their transport needs while also acting as a catalyst for innovation and new ways of working. 

Ian Constance will say: 

As tough as things are, the big message for government, innovators and manufacturers is that boldness wins the day. The UK has a unique set of capabilities, great reserves of ingenuity, strong infrastructure and an expert support network giving new technologies the best possible platform to succeed. If you add the considerable political support and investment we’re receiving from BEIS and the Prime Minister himself, then there’s the potential to achieve something very special in the years ahead. But it’s now vital we hold our nerve. There’s no question the pandemic makes things a lot harder, but we must not allow it to disrupt or distract us from our shared goal of securing a carbon-neutral future. Through initiatives like the Automotive Transformation Fund, Core Competitions and our Technology Development Accelerator Programme, the Advanced Propulsion Centre will help the sector move forward in difficult times so it can emerge stronger in the years ahead.

Mr Constance’s speech coincides with the launch of the first report by the Transport Energy Network, which was established by the Advanced Propulsion Centre, the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership and University of Brighton earlier this year to encourage collaboration across different transport sectors.  

Setting out 10 key recommendations for government and industry, the Understanding Decarbonised Transport in 2050 report points to the need for a more diverse approach to decarbonisation across transport, urging different sectors to work together to create a broad “portfolio of power options.