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Vehicle Ownership

October 2019: Exchanging existing vehicles with cleaner versions may not deliver sufficient environmental benefits. The report recommends a shift towards car ‘usership’ instead of ownership and encourages the government to improve public transport and to diversify investments into future transport technologies.


The UK’s advisory committee, the Science and Technology Select Committee, released a report highlighting that technology alone may not deliver enough environmental benefits but calls for an overall reduction in personal car ownership. Considering manufacturing processes and the environmental impact of batteries for electric vehicles, exchanging existing vehicles with cleaner versions may not be compatible with required decarbonisation efforts. The report establishes that an overall reduction of personal vehicles on the road and a general diversification of transport opportunities is required to achieve net zero goals.

Implications & Opportunities

The paper highlights the potential benefits of diversifying investments into future transport technologies and recommends increased investments into hydrogen technologies. In addition, the report encourages a ban on petrol and diesel cars by 2035, re-directing subsidies or fuel duties, and discourages personal vehicle use. Instead, the government should promote and improve public transport, reduce costs of public transport, encourage vehicle ‘usership’ instead of ownership, boosting cycling and walking. These recommendations could be realised in symbioses with reducing the environmental footprint of manufacturing electric vehicles and ensuring all charging ports offering energy from renewable sources. 


The report only offers limited commentary on technological advancements but aims to provide policy advice to the UK government and should be seen within the context of these objectives.


Science and Technology Select Committee. (2019). Clean Growth: Technologies for meeting the UK’s emissions reduction targets. Retrieved from

BBC. (2019). Ditch cars to meet climate change targets, say MPs. Retrieved from

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Adele Wiliams

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The views expressed in these external research papers are those of the authors and do not represent an official position of CISL, the University of Cambridge, or any of its individual business partners or clients.