Whilst this sounds like an overdue move forward in meeting the Paris agreement emissions targets and dealing with severe air pollution, it is actually very disappointing. 2040 is actually 23 years away and we need action now.
Friends of the Earth have responded to the news by focusing on air pollution issues, as follows: https://www.foe.co.uk/clean-air/latest-air-quality-plan?utm_source=Friends+of+the+Earth+Communications&utm_campaign=c2384c14be-LM1707024&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_383af65c6b-c2384c14be-22499637
“The government’s plans to clean up our dirty air are simply not good enough.
Its much anticipated Air Quality Plan has now been published. But it doesn’t do enough to tackle toxic air pollution and save lives now.
What’s wrong with the plan?
There’s a big announcement – banning the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2040 – but this isn’t a plan to end illegal air pollution now, or even anytime soon.
It’s a cynical move designed to grab headlines. Everyone knows what’s needed to give us breathable air:
- Clean Air Zones areas in which the most polluting vehicles are charged to enter.
- A diesel scrappage scheme to help drivers switch away from the most polluting vehicles.
- A levy on the manufacturers who cheated emissions tests to pay for it.
Instead of this the government is passing the buck to local authorities. And as a result people will continue to have their lives cut short because of air pollution.
All in all it’s a cynical move by the government to grab the headlines by announcing changes for 23 years’ time and failing to take serious action now.”
My own perspective on this is to ask the question, “Why has it taken so long for the UK car industry to produce affordable electric and hybrid vehicles?” We have known about this issue for years now and yet the car manufacturers have continued producing petrol and diesel vehicles, some of them high performance, as if they were safe for the environment. And my other question is about the infrastructure needed to support the use of electric vehicles. Many British citizens would happily move to electric vehicles if they knew how to easily charge them up – and plan for long journeys.
More access to charging facilities is needed plus quicker charging processes
Yet, car sales continue to rise and, whilst there are more hybrid and electric vehicles being sold in the UK, this is peanuts compared with the greater increases in the sales of petrol and diesel vehicles. The figures below from 2014, published in chapter 2 (p.46) of my book confirm this.
The actual numbers for the UK in 2014 were:
Petrol fuelled vehicles new registrations 1,184,409 47.8%
Diesel fuelled vehicles new registrations 1,240,287 50.1%
Alternative fuel vehicles new registrations 51,739 2.1%
Other European countries, such as Norway, are doing far better than this and others are imposing bans on the sale of new petrol vehicles far sooner than the UK is (eg Netherlands by 2025). Why are we being so slow about it? Is it that business interests take priority over the environment?
My other questions is: what about used vehicles? Are they to be banned from UK roads after 2040 or is it just new vehicles which will be affected?
The measures clearly don’t go far enough.