The UK will ban the sale of new petrol, diesel and hybrid vehicles from 2035, bringing forward the original date by five years. The change comes after experts said 2040 would be too late if the UK wants to achieve its target of emitting virtually zero carbon by 2050.
The 2035 date could even be moved forward further, subject to a consultation, to help the UK meet its 2050 net-zero climate target.
The government announced the 2040 date in 2017 but has faced pressure to bring forward the date in line with other European countries. Netherlands, Ireland and Denmark will all phase out new petrol and diesels in 2030 and Norway will in 2025.
2019 was a record year for EV and hybrid sales in the UK. Battery electric vehicles (BEV) experienced the biggest percentage growth, rising by 144.0% to 37,850 units. However, they still represent a tiny share of the market and are still dwarfed by sales of petrol and diesel vehicles.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson will say: ‘Hosting COP26 is an important opportunity for the UK and nations across the globe to step up in the fight against climate change. As we set out our plans to hit our ambitious 2050 net-zero target across this year, so we shall urge others to join us in pledging net zero emissions.
‘There can be no greater responsibility than protecting our planet, and no mission that a Global Britain is prouder to serve. 2020 must be the year we turn the tide on global warming– it will be the year when we choose a cleaner, greener future for all.’
Mike Hawes, chief executive, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), said the government is offering uncertainty to carmakers.
‘It’s extremely concerning that government has seemingly moved the goalposts for consumers and industry on such a critical issue,’ he said.
‘Manufacturers are fully invested in a zero-emissions future, with some 60 plug-in models now on the market and 34 more coming in 2020.
‘However, with current demand for this still expensive technology still just a fraction of sales, it’s clear that accelerating an already very challenging ambition will take more than industry investment. This is about market transformation, yet we still don’t have clarity on the future of the plug-in car grant – the most significant driver of EV uptake – which ends in just 60 days’ time, while the UK’s charging network is still woefully inadequate.’
Friends of the Earth’s head of policy Mike Childs said the government must go further.
‘The government is right to accelerate the phase-out of petrol and diesel cars to curb air pollution and address the climate emergency, but the ban should start in 2030 – not 2035,’ he said.
‘A new 2035 target will still leave the UK in the slow-lane of the electric car revolution and meantime allow more greenhouse gases to spew into the atmosphere.
‘If the UK government wants to show real leadership ahead of this year’s climate summit it must also urgently reverse its plans for more climate-wrecking roads and runways – and pull the plug on its support for new gas, coal and oil developments.’