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‘Disruption’ and ‘continuity’ in transport energy systems: the case of the ban on new conventional fossil fuel vehicles

Panel: 6. Transport and mobility

This is a peer-reviewed paper.

Christian Brand, ECI - Energy Group. Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford, United Kingdom
Jillian Anable, University of Leeds, United Kingdom


The phasing out of the sale of new conventional petrol and diesel vehicles by a given date is one of a number of potentially disruptive policies that have been announced over the past five years. While the UK has opted for a target year of 2040 other jurisdictions have announced more challenging target dates (2025: Norway, Paris; 2030: Germany; 2032: Scotland) and scope (petrol and diesel, diesel only, non-electric).

There is lack of robust analysis that examines the various targets and phase outs in terms of the key trade-offs in improving carbon emissions, air quality, and public health at various scales. There are also important issues around public acceptability, including how people buy cars and vans, how cars and vans need to be sold, accessed and utilised in order to accelerate turnover in the fleet. These need further investigation through the lens of ‘disruption’.

This paper investigates a number of alternative futures around the proposed ban on conventional fossil fuelled vehicles in the UK. By doing so it explores how such a strategy/ban can be achieved while maximising ‘co benefits’; what the impacts might be if the Government were more ambitious; how much ‘disruption’ is needed; and what the implications of different consumer acceptability scenarios are.

We used established modelling techniques and prospective scenario analysis to explore existing and alternative disruptive strategies with the view to achieve near ‘zero emissions’ and much improved air quality from light duty vehicles by 2050. The results suggest that the existing, relatively unambitious 2040 ban on internal combustion engine cars and vans can be achieved by essentially doing what we are doing anyway (continuous change) whereas more ambitious bans (e.g. 2030, and including hybrids) would require some ‘disruptive’ change within the existing socio-technical system. We conclude by discussing and mapping the policy options in terms of disruption for government, industry and consumers.


Download this paper as pdf: 6-309-19_Brand.pdf

Download this presentation as pdf: 6-309-19_Brand_Presentation.pdf