9 Dec 21


Pollution-detecting Christmas tree installed in Glasgow city centre

Photo accompanying press release
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  • Christmas tree featuring lights which change colour according to the pollution levels in the air installed in Glasgow
  • Christmas Tree-V lights powered by an electric vehicle to encourage motorists nationwide to opt for more low carbon ways to travel this festive season
  • 39% of Brits are more likely to consider their carbon footprint when they travel due to COP26
  • The average motorist travels 339 miles during December on Christmas related activities, such as shopping for gifts or buying a Christmas tree

Visitors to Glasgow’s Buchanan Street will be treated this week to a festive lights display like no other, with a Christmas tree featuring lights that change colour according to the pollution levels in the city.

The tree was installed by EDF in a bid to make motorists more aware of the impact that petrol and diesel cars have on the environment, and features colour-changing lights powered by an electric vehicle (EV) that react to air pollution levels in the city centre.

Developed by the company’s research and development team, the innovative light display has been programmed to reflect live pollution data and change colour from green to white once the World Health Organisation (WHO) annual mean limit (5 μg/m3), which is the target that the WHO has set for the total average pollution levels for the year to stay below, for PM2.5 is exceeded1.

The display comes as consumer research commissioned by EDF2 reveals over three fifths (63%) of Brits travelling this Christmas will be using a car as their main mode of transport, with only 5% of these driving an EV3.

The research found that nine in 10 British adults look set to travel more than 300 miles to celebrate Christmas, with the average motorist travelling 339 miles during December on Christmas related activities4. This includes visiting friends and family (96 miles) and shopping for Christmas food and gifts (110 miles), equating to a collective 10.5billion miles nationwide5. Additionally, of those travelling in the month of December, 18% will drive to see festive markets and 15% usually go to see the Christmas lights.

Whilst many of us now shop online for presents, nearly two thirds (64%) still choose to shop in store with the average motorist making five shopping trips during the Christmas period. With the main reasons cited for visiting the city centre as preference to buy items in person rather than online (61%), with almost a third (29%) doing so as the decorations help them to get into the festive spirit, with a quarter (26%) doing so as part of their Christmas tradition.

Of those that use a car to travel into their nearest city centre, almost half (46%) do so due to convenience, with four tenths (40%) not wanting to have to worry about carrying shopping home and the speed of it (33%), with a quarter (25%) stating that there are limited public transport alternatives available.

Of those who choose not to drive into their nearest city centres, only a quarter of people (24%) do so due to environmental reasons, with the high cost of parking (45%) the main reason to not use their car, followed by the struggle to find a parking place (39%).

Glasgow has been selected as the home of EDF’s “Christmas Tree-V” as not only was the city host to the UN Climate Change Conference, COP26, but is also set to be car free by 2027 as part of its LEZ (low emission zone) plan. Phase 2 of the plan, which starts on 1st June 2023, will mean that all vehicles entering the city centre zone must meet the required emission standards or face a penalty.

Furthermore, of those who were aware of the conference, more than a third (39%) had said that it made them more likely to consider their carbon footprint when they travel and potentially switch to an alternative mode of transport to cut carbon emissions.

Philippe Commaret, Managing Director for Customers at EDF commented:

“Santa may not ride an electric sleigh but increasing numbers of motorists are choosing to drive electric vehicles, with COP encouraging more people to consider the carbon impact of their travel this Christmas.

“Thanks to our specially designed Christmas Tree-V, visitors to Glasgow city centre will be able to see pollution levels change throughout the day as the lights change, helping people to see the impact of their transport choices for themselves.

As Britain’s biggest generator of zero carbon electricity, we’re committed to making it as easy as possible for motorists to make the switch to an EV and cut their carbon emissions, from car leasing deals to home charging points and 100% renewable zero carbon EV tariffs.6

Analysis conducted by EDF found that the 31million cars on UK roads 7 will emit around 68 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year8. That’s the equivalent of 41.2million return flights from London to New York9. By comparison, running an electric SUV would contribute no carbon dioxide emissions to the environment if charged using a regulated renewable tariff, such as EDF’s GoElectric tariff10.

To make the transition to electric vehicles hassle-free, EDF has partnered with Drive Electric, one of the UK’s leading electric car leasing providers, to bring consumers affordable deals starting from £164 per month11, as well as home charge-points through its partnership with Pod Point. EDF makes it easy to switch to electric motoring, providing customers with access to a range of electric vehicle offerings from chargers for home, electric vehicle leasing, and three different tariff options to suit their lifestyle.

For further information about EDF’s range of tariff options, please visit: www.edfenergy.com/electric-cars/tariffs


For more information contact:
EDF Press Office: edfeconsumer@goodrelations.co.uk

Notes to Editors:

  1. The lights are programmed to reflect live data from the nearest DEFRA monitoring site to Buchanan Street, at Glasgow High Street. The threshold for turning from green to white has been set according to the WHO mean annual limit of 5 μg/m3 for PM2.5, with the lights green when the levels are below 5 μg/m3 and white once 5 μg/m3 is reached. This is the target level that the WHO has set for the total average pollution levels for the year to stay below, it is not the daily limit level which is 15 μg/m3 for PM2.5.
  2. Research conducted by OnePoll of 2,000 UK adults between 24th and 30th November 2021
  3. By a ‘fully’ electric vehicle we are referring to a battery electric vehicle (BEV) that exclusively uses energy stored in a rechargeable battery, with no secondary fuel source
    1. Visiting friends and family members
    2. Christmas food shopping
    3. Christmas gift shopping
    4. Eating out (i.e. restaurants, bars etc.)
    5. Visiting a Christmas market
    6. To see the Christmas lights
    7. Going to events (i.e parties, theatre, pantomimes, nativity play etc)
    8. Visiting the city centre
    9. Buying the Christmas tree
    10. Visiting the cinema
  5. RAC - 35.9 million drivers in the UK = 30,972,000 who will travel at Christmas (87%) X 338 = 10,468,536,000 across the nation
  6. EDF's EV tariffs are backed with 100% zero carbon renewable electricity. Electricity for EDF's GoElectric tariff comes from renewable sources like wind, solar, biomass, tidal and hydroelectric. At the end of each fuel mix reporting year, EDF will make sure they've purchased enough renewable electricity from EDF owned renewable generation to match the total volume of electricity supplied to all their customers on the GoElectric tariff. A fuel mix reporting year begins on 1 April and ends on 31 March the following year. UK Fuel Mix disclosure information published by the Government (DESNZ), recognises electricity from wind, solar and nuclear fuel produces zero carbon dioxide emissions at the point of generation. See EDF's tariff table for more information.
  7. https://www.racfoundation.org/motoring-faqs/mobility - Q1) How many vehicles are there in Great Britain? A1) At the end of June 2021, there were 39.2 million licensed vehicles in Great Britain, a 2.2 per cent increase compared to the end of June 2020. This annual increase in licensed vehicles followed the four consecutive quarters of year on year decline during 2020. However, compared to the end of June 2019, the number of licensed vehicles has increased by 1.3 per cent.
  8. Department for Transport: Transport and Environment Statistics 2021 Annual report - https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/984685/transport-and-environment-statistics-2021.pdf
  9. C02 emissions p/passenger of a return flight from London to New York - 1.65 tonnes - https://calculator.carbonfootprint.com/calculator.aspx?lang=en-GB&tab=3
  10. Comparison has been conducted between direct emissions/emissions at point of use, NOT lifecycle emissions (i.e. manufacturing of the car etc)
  11. Based on a Volkswagen E-up. Price valid until 22/12

About EDF in the UK

EDF is helping Britain achieve Net Zero by leading the transition to a cleaner, low emission electric future and tackling climate change. We are Britain’s biggest generator of zero carbon electricity, meeting around one-fifth of the country’s demand and supplying millions of customers with electricity and gas.

With around 5 million accounts, EDF is one of the largest suppliers to British homes and businesses and a leading supplier of innovative energy solutions that are helping businesses become more energy independent. All of our home and small business customers get energy tariffs backed by zero carbon electricity as standard.

We generate low carbon electricity from eight nuclear power stations, more than thirty onshore wind farms and two offshore wind farms, and operate one of Britain’s biggest battery storage units, one gas and one coal power station, thousands of EV charge-points, and combined heat and power plants. Wind, nuclear and solar all produce electricity that is zero carbon at the point of generation and have similar emissions over the build, run and retire lifecycles.

EDF is leading the UK's nuclear renaissance with the construction of a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C, and is leading the development of plans for a replica at Sizewell C in Suffolk. Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C will provide low carbon electricity to meet 14% of UK demand and power around 12 million homes.

EDF is one of the UK’s largest investors in renewables, with 1GW of renewable generation in operation and over 4GW in construction, planning and development across a range of technologies including onshore and offshore wind, solar and battery storage. We are constructing our largest offshore wind farm in Britain – the 450 MW Neart na Gaoithe project in Scotland which will be ready in 2023.

Our energy services business, Imtech, is one of the largest technical service providers in the UK and Ireland.

EDF is part of EDF Group, the world’s biggest electricity generator. In the UK we employ around 13,000 people.