Two of Britain’s biggest energy suppliers are accelerating the drive towards greener vehicles by pledging to replace their existing fleet of vans with all-electric models by 2030.
British Gas owner Centrica and SSE have committed to switch to electric cars and vans a decade ahead of the government’s ban on the sale of new combustion engine vehicles.
British Gas will electrify its 12,500 vans, the third largest fleet of vehicles in the UK, to transport its 15,000 engineers across the country to customer homes.
SSE said it would switch its 3,500 vehicles, the UK’s seventh biggest fleet of cars, to electric models, and install charging points for its 21,000 employees.
The two companies – among the UK’s big six energy providers – will sign up to the pledge, organised by the Climate Group, alongside facilities management firm Mitie, which has signed up to a softer target. Mitie plans to switch 20% of its 3,500-strong car and van fleet to electric by 2020 and will install 800 charging points.
The Climate Group said the latest pledges mean 49 companies have agreed to remove more than 2m petrol and diesel vehicles from the world’s roads by 2030.
Helen Clarkson, the pressure group’s chief executive, said: “These companies are sending a clear message that the direction of travel for transport is electric, inspiring their staff and customers to follow. Every major business must do the same.”
The group is also calling on companies to double their energy productivity by 2030, by increasing energy efficiency and reducing energy waste.
SSE has signed up to the energy efficiency pledge and said it has already reduced the energy use at its data centres by more than a fifth since 2016.
Brian McLaren, a director at SSE, said the pledges were part of the company’s ambition to “deliver low carbon infrastructure in a sustainable way”. “Decarbonisation is at the heart of what we do and low-carbon emissions from transport is critical if the UK is to meet its net zero targets,” he said.
Mitie has promised to keep replacing its cars and vans with electric options between 2020 to 2030, but said its progress would depend on the availability and affordability of vehicle charging infrastructure.
Simon King, Mitie’s fleet director, said the interim 2020 target was still “an important step in the effort to combat climate change”. “It is challenging, but we all need to take responsibility for actions and commit to change,” he said.
“We want to ensure our sizeable fleet is as green and sustainable as possible and show other companies that making the switch to electric vehicles is the right thing for their people, the planet and their pockets,” he said.