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Prime Minister sets realistic path to ‘Net Zero’ by adjusting ban on petrol and diesel cars

Updated: Sep 24, 2023

The Prime Minister has pledged to lead the country on a pragmatic and proportionate journey towards achieving net zero emissions by 2050. In a bid to alleviate the financial burden on British families, the Government has announced a revision to the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars, providing them with more flexibility and opportunity to benefit from falling prices in the coming decade.

Under the revised plans, the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars will be shifted by five years, resulting in all sales of new cars from 2035 being required to be zero-emission vehicles.

Acknowledging the current economic challenges faced by citizens, the Prime Minister emphasised that reaching the targets set for 2030 and 2035 should not come at the expense of British families grappling with rising costs of living. Despite the commitment to international emission reduction, the Prime Minister highlighted that the UK's share of global emissions stands at less than 1%.

This new approach falls in line with the Government's ambition to strike a balance between environmental sustainability and economic pragmatism. By providing options and allowing families to time their transition to electric vehicles based on market conditions, the Government aims to ensure a smoother and more affordable transition towards a greener future.

RAC Head of Policy, Simon Williams, said: “This announcement risks slowing down both the momentum the motor industry has built up in switching to electric powertrains and ultimately the uptake of electric vehicles (EVs) that is so important when it comes to decarbonising road transport in the UK. But, as cost remains one the biggest barriers to going electric, there’s surely no reason why the Government can’t help many more drivers into EVs by reintroducing a form of the plug-in car grant that incentivises the cheaper end of the car market. At the same time, we strongly hope manufacturers will continue producing EVs in ever increasing numbers as this is ultimately what’s needed to help bring prices down for both new and second-hand cars.

“It’s also not at all clear how rolling back from 2030 is compatible with the Government’s zero-emission vehicle mandate which was due to set targets for manufacturers’ EV sales from next year. It’s perhaps telling that ministers have yet to respond to the consultation on this that closed in May.”

David Savage, Vice President, UK + Ireland, Geotab, said: “Reports that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is seeking to water down the government’s net zero commitments are concerning, particularly with regard to the transition to zero-emission vehicles, as we collectively face the existential threat of climate change.

“All of us in the transportation industry have been investing heavily in this transition, from vehicle manufacturers to fleet operators, and infrastructure providers alike. This morning, many of these stakeholders will be feeling let down and betrayed by the government.

“We need to be investing more in this transition, not reversing it. Not only to stimulate the UK’s position in this emerging sector, but also to build a sustainable future for us all. The government has already walked back various incentives for Zero Emission Vehicles—and despite the Prime Minister’s claim that the long-term interests of our country must come before “short-term political needs”, climate change is simply not going to wait.“


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