MPs have declared that the government’s ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2040 “lacks sufficient ambition”. Think tank Green Alliance has said that a deadline of 2030 would help the UK get closer to its climate targets and cut oil imports by almost half. It would also ensure that the UK maintains its authority in the electric car industry.

In the last few years, the transport sector has become the UK’s largest source of carbon emissions with the emissions from the average new car rising in 2017. MPs warned of the health risks caused by carbon emissions last week. The Green Alliance report stated that bringing the deadline forward to 2030 would “reduce the current gap in meeting the UK’s carbon budgets by 60 – 85 per cent”.

The current 2040 deadline also risks the UK’s strong position in the electric car industry, according to Green Alliance. Germany has already overtaken the UK in terms of new hybrid and EV registrations. This is despite the fact that Nissan’s Sunderland plant produced a fifth of electric cars sold in Europe in 2016. Policy director at Green Alliance, Dustin Benton, said: “The government’s recent industrial strategy cites clean growth as one of the biggest economic opportunities for the UK, but if we keep building and buying dirty cars we’ll miss the growth opportunity of the century.”

While BMW has decided to base production of electric minis in the UK, other manufacturers are looking elsewhere. For example, Jaguar Land Rover has chosen to base its i-Pace in Austria. In order to keep up, the UK may have to follow the lead of countries like Ireland, Holland, Germany, and India and ban fossil fuels from 2030. Norway announced in 2016 that its ban would commence as soon as 2025.

Green Alliance also estimated that by moving the ban forward a decade, oil imports would fall by almost 50% by 2035. This would save around £6.63 bn a year at a time when production of oil and gas from the North Sea is seeing a decline.  

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