If all commercial vans transitioned to electric the UK's annual CO2 emissions would fall by 3.4 million tonnes, down from 405.5 million tonnes to 402.1 million tonnes, according to new research by Northgate Vehicle Hire.
The research, which analysed data from DfT's statistics on van usage in the UK, found that there are over 2.3 million commercial vans in Great Britain, each travelling an average of 17,500 miles a year.
Based on these figures the research estmated that each commercial van emits an estimated 4.3 tonnes of CO2 annually, with the entire UK fleet emitting a total of 10.3 million tonnes of CO2 a year.
The report states: "This staggering statistic is four times higher than the annual CO2 emissions produced by plastic production in the UK in 2020 (2.4 million tonnes).
The report adds: "Despite vans now accounting for 13% of road transport carbon pollution in the EU, only 2% sold in 2020 were electric with an even lower percentage in the UK (0.3%).
"It is evident that making electric vans a priority would greatly accelerate reaching the zero emissions goal by 2050."
- Restrictions on 4.25 tonne electric vans causing operator issues, warns AFP
- Raise your targets on adoption of electric vans or face supply issues, experts warn government
- Northgate launches Drive to Zero programme for LCV market
The report calculates that, since electric vans produce an average of 50g of CO2 per mile, one van would be producing an average of 1.4 tonnes a year - 68% lower than its diesel counterpart.
"If all commercial vans transitioned to electric, this would reduce the yearly emissions in the UK by 3.4 million tonnes from 405.5 million tonnes to 402.1 million tonnes of CO2," the report concluded.
The researchers also calculated in which UK regions commercial vans are producing the most emissions, with the South East coming in as the highest, followed by East England and the West Midlands.
The report said commercial businesses that use vans in Southeast England are contributing most to the UK’s CO2 emissions, accounting for over 1.3 million tonnes each year - 80% higher than the regional average of 734,565 tonnes.
Following closely behind is East England where the average commercial van travels the highest number of miles each year (14,800 miles), producing a total of 9.9 thousand tonnes of CO2 each year.
Also ranked in the top five are the West Midlands (930,391 tonnes), South West England (870,150 tonnes) and the East Midlands (799,564 tonnes), respectively ranking third, fourth and fifth.