The United Kingdom will ban the sale of new cars that run only on fossil fuels in 2030, a move that is designed to phase out polluting vehicles earlier than any other major economy and support the country’s recovery from the pandemic.
The UK government said in a statement Wednesday that it would end the sale of new gasoline and diesel cars and vans five years earlier than previously planned, putting it on course to be the first G7 country to decarbonize road transport. Sales of new hybrid vehicles will be allowed to continue until 2035.
The ban is part of a broader “green industrial revolution” blueprint announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson that includes £12 billion ($16 billion) in government investment. The government hopes the private sector will chip in over three times that amount.
“Although this year has taken a very different path to the one we expected, the United Kingdom is looking to the future and seizing the opportunity to build back greener,” Johnson said in a statement. “The recovery of our planet and of our economies can and must go hand-in-hand.”
To accelerate sales of cleaner vehicles, the government will spend £1.3 billion ($1.7 billion) on electric vehicle charging points, and nearly £500 million ($664 million) to develop and produce batteries for electric cars. Some £582 million ($773 million) in subsidies will make zero and ultra-low emission vehicles cheaper for people to buy.
But the more aggressive deadline could pose problems for the British auto industry, which has been hobbled by years of uncertainty over the country’s exit from the European Union and the economic fallout from the coronavirus. Production has slumped dramatically, and the industry has warned that failing to strike a new trade deal with the European Union before the end of December deadline would cost it £47 billion ($62.5 billion) over the next five years.
“We share government’s ambition for leadership in decarbonizing road transport and are committed to the journey,” Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said in a statement. “Manufacturers have invested billions to deliver vehicles that are already helping thousands of drivers switch to zero, but this new deadline … sets an immense challenge.”
The new UK deadline is among the most aggressive in the world. Norway, which has a much smaller economy than Britain and a significant head start in the race to put more electric cars on the road, has said that all new passenger cars and vans sold should be zero-emission vehicles by 2025.
Hawes said that much more work needs to be done in the United Kingdom.
“Success will depend on reassuring consumers that they can afford these new technologies, that they will deliver their mobility needs and, critically, that they can recharge as easily as they refuel. For that, we look to others to step up and match our commitment,” he said. “We will now work with government on the detail of this plan, which must be delivered at pace to achieve a rapid transition.”
Other components of the UK climate plan announced on Wednesday include quadrupling the production of offshore wind by 2030, boosting hydrogen and nuclear power, improving public transportation and making homes and public buildings more energy efficient. The government also wants to expand efforts to plant trees, and develop technology that allows carbon emissions to be captured before they harm the environment.
“This is a shared global challenge — every country in the world needs to take action to secure the future of the planet for our children, grandchildren and generations to come,” Johnson said.