The international non-profit The Climate Group has launched a new partnership with BT Group to promote a faster switch to electric vehicles (EVs).
Incorporating Openreach, the digital network business, BT Group operates one of the largest corporate vehicle fleets in the UK.
The newly named ‘UK Electric Fleets Alliance’ will see the leadership teams from the coalition advocate for 100% EV sales nationwide by 2030, combined with targeted policy support to enable businesses to make the switch.
The group aims to solidify commitments from senior government ministers to bring forward the UK target to end petrol and diesel vehicle sales and to make clean road transport a priority for next year’s COP26 summit in Glasgow.
BT Group is already a member of The Climate Group’s EV100 initiative and committed to convert its commercial vehicles to electric where it is the best technical and economic solution.
EV100 members have already made combined commitments to fleet electrification that will see over 2.5 million vehicles switch to zero emissions by 2030, plus commitments to company-wide EV charging roll-out for staff and customers that will see charge points deployed at over 3,000 company locations.
In the UK this includes 29 corporate fleet commitments (circa 60,000 vehicles), three leasing company commitments (around 600,000 vehicles), and 25 staff/customer charging commitments (circa 380 company locations to have EV charging installed).
Philip Jansen, BT Group chief executive, said: “We have plans to be a net zero emissions business by 2045.
“The switch to low and zero emissions vehicles is a key element in our carbon strategy and this new partnership will be critical in allowing us to make the switch.
“We hope that this coalition will help drive the necessary bold action from other businesses and policymakers needed to transition to the low carbon economy.”
Helen Clarkson, The Climate Group chief executive, said targeting 100% EV sales by 2030 is critical for hitting the UK’s net zero emissions goal and setting “a powerful example of climate leadership” to other countries as they prepare their coronavirus recovery plans and their climate pledges for next year’s COP26 summit.
She said: “BT and Openreach are fantastic partners, not just making the commitment to transform their own operations to zero-emission solutions like EVs, but also making advocacy for the net zero transition a key pillar of their campaigning work.
“We know there is broad appetite for this transition in the UK business community and we look forward to growing the Alliance and engaging with the government on this crucial issue.”
Clive Selley, Openreach chief executive, said Openreach will play a leading role in the UK’s transition to low carbon vehicles. However, she said there are still some major hurdles to overcome.
Selley said the kinds of vehicles, scale of manufacturing, supply-chains and infrastructure needed to electrify large fleets like Openreach’s doesn’t yet exist today.
She added: “We need Government support to make the transition faster and fuller, and the commitment to maintaining plug-in grants is a welcome first step.”
In February Prime Minister Boris Johnson proposed a 2035 target, “or earlier if a faster transition is feasible”. The UK Electric Fleets Alliance is engaging with the consultation on this target, which closes at the end of July.