Co-producing Policy through Stakeholder Workshops

24 Apr 2019

Driving Policy – How UKERC and EDF Europe are working to advance electric vehicle policy

The United Kingdom’s transport system is polluting both our planet and our streets. The response, a shift to electrified transport, will have huge impacts on the energy system: power for our vehicles will increasingly be supplied by the electricity grid. Done in an uncontrolled way, this could lead to spikes in demand for electricity and demand for more fossil-fuel resources. However, if done effectively, this shift could enable greater decarbonisation of the grid, cheaper transport for citizens due to low costs of charging, and pave the way for an entirely new model of transportation in the UK – one closely integrated with the energy system.

With the Automated and Electric Vehicles (AEV) Act passing through Parliament in 2018, Environmental Defense Fund Europe (EDFE) saw a rare opportunity to influence primary legislation to achieve environmental goals. The aim of the AEV Act was to ensure adequate electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure in the UK, and we saw potential to strengthen the Act to accelerate the UK’s transition to EVs and to better integrate the transport and energy systems. EDFE and UKERC collaborated to run an ongoing series of stakeholder workshops looking at barriers preventing EV uptake and development of charging infrastructure, examining what amendments to the AEV Act could help overcome those barriers.

The Roundtables

In partnership with UKERC, we ran workshops that would elicit input from all sections and sectors of society, allowing us to develop policy in collaboration with academics, industry specialists, citizens and policymakers. Too often energy and transport policy discussions are dominated by men, and as part of our work we set out to significantly increase the participation of women. Through emphasising the need to have a gender-balanced perspective among our invitees, working with the Werin network (a network and support system for women working in research and industry on whole energy systems), and prioritising having women as speakers we had an approximately even gender split at every event that we hosted.

A successful approach

Our roundtables, which began in March 2018, aimed to bring together stakeholders representing a full spectrum of opinions and interests related to decarbonisation and transport. We focused on the potential outcomes of various policy suggestions, and their effects on different communities in the UK, and encouraged open, collaborative dialogue among stakeholders.

We had an immediate policy impact – the first two roundtables led to the assembly and refinement of amendments to the AEV Act, which were then proposed in the House of Lords. Four of the amendments were accepted by the Government and written into law, securing support for hydrogen fuel-cell technology, ensuring that the Government reports on progress, giving metro mayors greater power to build charge point networks, and requiring charge points to be maintained in good condition. This was an exciting indication that our methods could provide useful solutions to complex problems.

Two further roundtables looked at how best to harmonise the converging transport and energy sectors, and the final roundtable focused on how automation, shared vehicles and electrification would combine to shape the UK’s transport and energy systems. Here we saw a particularly clear example of the value of our approach: during discussions of the potential value of using buses for on-demand services outside of peak times, representatives from the charge-point industry pointed out that bus charging-times are so long that they must be predictable, making more ad-hoc services difficult to run. Diverse stakeholder workshops produced unexpected insights.

The key policy priorities that emerged from the workshop include: improving accessibility of transport data to ensure that monopolies do not form, ensuring that automated vehicles are both electric and shared, and how to replace fuel duty without impacting the energy system, as well as how to ensure that the benefits of EVs are accessible to all, a topic we are exploring in an upcoming report with Frontier Economics.

Next Steps

The UK’s energy and transport systems are undergoing rapid changes, and interacting with each other in complex ways. This complicates the development of policy enormously, as decisions can have unpredictable consequences, and policy must draw on cross-disciplinary and cross-sectoral knowledge. This project brought together valuable combinations of insights and experiences, and enabled the development of practical, timely and necessary policies.

Author Andrew McLean is Senior Assistant Researcher at Environmental Defense Fund Europe and leads on the Whole Systems Networking Fund, "Co-producing the Electric Vehicles Bill" project.