The Department for Transport (DfT) has just 22 pure electric vehicles (EVs) in its fleet of more than 1,800, Air Quality News can exclusively reveal.
Air Quality News submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the DfT asking for a breakdown of their vehicle fleet.
The response revealed that out of their 1,860 vehicle fleet, 1,326 are diesel, 43 are petrol, 134 are hybrid and just 22 are pure electric.
In 2018, the government pledged to ensure that a quarter of central government cars are electric by 2022, and 100% by 2030.
The then transport secretary Chris Grayling wrote to every government department giving them detailed guidance on how to transition to an ultra-low emission vehicle fleet.
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This data reveals that the Department for Transport has some way to go on this target, with just over one year to go and yet currently just 1% of its fleet is pure electric.
In terms of air pollution, this is particularly concerning, road transport is responsible for 80% of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions at roadside and diesel vehicles are the largest source of this.
Diesel vehicles can also be up to 10 times more polluting than their petrol equivalent.
The DfT also labelled their hybrid vehicles as ‘ultra-low-emission-vehicles’, but recent research has revealed that hybrid vehicles may emit two and half times more CO2 than official figures suggested.
‘Just 1% of the vehicles operated by the DfT and its agencies are zero-emission, this is pathetic progress,’ said the UK director of Transport & Environment, Greg Archer.
‘There is a mountain to climb to meet the aspiration that a quarter of cars should be electric by 2022. The department is even trying to mask its failure by wrongly counting mild hybrid cars as Ultra Low Emissions Vehicles. The DfT should lead by example and only operate zero-emission vehicles by 2025.’
He added: ‘Five years after the Dieselgate scandal and over 70% of the vehicles operated by DfT and its agencies are diesel.
‘This is despite the department’s own research showing the appallingly high NOx emissions from many diesel cars. Just 2% of vehicles in operation are petrol demonstrating that the department still hasn’t even embraced hybrids twenty years after they became mainstream!
‘It is time for a complete overhaul of the department’s procurement practices; they should be leading the shift to clean vehicles, not hanging on to the past.’
Rachel White, head of public affairs at Sustrans added: ‘It is disappointing to learn of the high number of diesel cars the Department for Transport have in their vehicle fleet.
‘It is essential the government show leadership by committing to switch to cleaner, and more sustainable modes of transport, including cargo and e-cargo cycles, within their own departments.’
The Department for Transport responded by stating: ‘We’re committed to transitioning to cleaner, greener vehicles across government, which is why almost half of the Department for Transport’s Government Car Service fleet are ultra-low emission vehicles and why we’re working to increase the number of green vehicles in the fleet as quickly as possible.
‘Central government is working at pace to transition a quarter of its fleet to electric by 2022 and all cars to electric by 2030 and are supporting the UK’s shift to electric vehicles.’
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