UK to ban petrol and diesel cars from 2040 – here’s why

The UK government plans to make the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans illegal from the year 2040.

In a bid to tackle rising pollution levels in Britain, the UK plans to outlaw the sale of new petrol and diesel cars. It’s hoped that the decision will reduce levels of nitrogen oxide in the air, improving public health as a result.

The decision is expected to be formally announced later today in a document published by current environment secretary Michael Gove. It’s a similar move to the pledge recently made in France, which also seeks to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars.

Importantly, the ban will also cover hybrid vehicles, which means automakers will have to utilise alternative forms of power like electricity or hydrogen fuel cells. It’s no surprise either, given that ministers believe the impact of vehicle emissions cost the UK up to £2.7 billion in lost productivity in one recent year.

In a statement, a government spokesperson said: “Poor air quality is the biggest environmental risk to public health in the UK and this government is determined to take strong action in the shortest time possible.”

The spokesperson continued: “That is why we are providing councils with new funding to accelerate development of local plans, as part of an ambitious £3 billion programme to clean up dirty air around our roads.”

Environmental groups seem to be welcoming the decision, although the overriding sentiment appears to be that the government needs to also do more to reduce pollution in the short term, as ClientEarth CEO James Thornton explains:

“The government has trumpeted some promising measures with its air quality plans, but we need to see the detail. A clear policy to move people towards cleaner vehicles by banning the sale of petrol and diesel cars and vans after 2040 is welcome, as is more funding for local authorities.”

“However,” Thornton continues, “the law says ministers must bring down illegal levels of air pollution as soon as possible, so any measures announced in this plan must be focused on doing that.”

Although there is rapid growth in the electric car segment, not all car makers are currently manufacturing electric vehicles. Some have been more proactive than most however, with Volvo recently announcing that all of its cars would be electric going forward beyond 2019. Jaguar also plans to join the growing roster of zero-emission carmakers with next year’s launch of the all-electric Jaguar I-Pace sports utility vehicle.

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What do you think about the decision to ban the sale petrol and diesel cars? Let us know in the comments.