A group of moderate Conservative MPs has joined green groups in calling for the government’s ban on new fossil fuel vehicles to be brought forward by five years to 2030 as part of a plan to ignite a green economic recovery.
The recently reformed caucus of centrist Conservatives has called on ministers to accelerate the shift to electric vehicles as part of a comprehensive green policy report aimed at bringing the UK in line with the official advice of the government’s climate tsars.
The One Nation group of about 100 Conservative MPs, or a third of the parliamentary party, formed in opposition to a hardline no-deal Brexit under Theresa May and relaunched late last month in a bid to steer Boris Johnson away from the hard right of the party.
Jerome Mayhew MP, the lead author of the report, said the caucus supports the prime minister’s ambition to “build back greener” in the wake of pandemic and rejects “the anti-capitalist assertion” that economic growth is incompatible with tackling the climate crisis.
“Offshore wind, electric vehicles, carbon capture and other clean technologies have the potential to create millions of jobs, attract private investment and grow UK exports,” he said.
“Economic growth and innovation go hand in hand, and by investing in green skills, jobs, and technologies we can support an accelerated recovery of our economy and our environment,” he added.
The rollout of electric vehicles is a key pillar of the government’s plans for cutting carbon emissions to virtually zero by 2050 to end the UK’s contribution to the climate crisis. Sales of electric vehicles are climbing quickly but official figures show they still accounted for only 2% of new car registrations last year. In February the government launched a consultation on whether to ban all cars with internal combustion engines by 2035.
The group’s 25-point plan to kickstart a green economic recovery calls for the government to mandate electric vehicle charging points as standard in new homes, and help support greater private investment in electric vehicle supply chains.
The report from the One Nation MPs also calls for the government to boost green homes, cycle lanes and jobs training for the low-carbon economy and includes a greenhouse gas removal strategy.
Mayhew suggested using overarching fiscal measures including an economy-wide carbon tax combined with a “carbon border tax” on imported manufactured goods to raise funds for the green infrastructure projects.
One Nation member Anthony Browne MP, the former chief executive of the British Bankers’ Association, said the fresh funds should be channelled not only to reducing energy demand and using cleaner sources to help remove greenhouse gases which are already in the atmosphere.
By using carbon capture technology and the planting of 30,000 hectares (74,000 acres) of trees a year, more than six times the the government’s existing target, the UK should be able to capture and store 10m tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2030, he said.
The report calls for the government to set out a clear greenhouse gas removal strategy, which brings together carbon capture, tree planting and soil improvements to set out how it can contribute to the target of becoming carbon neutral by 2050.
“We have the opportunity to reboot our economy and create jobs, by accelerating the rollout of clean and resilient infrastructure and stimulating low-carbon industries across the UK,” Mayhew said. “A clear majority of the public supports this agenda too.”
The latest report from the One National Conservatives follows previous reports published in recent weeks on spurring an economic recovery and boosting social mobility.