The United Kingdom will bar the sale of all new gas and diesel-powered vehicles starting in 2030, the government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson moving up an earlier ban by a decade.
As part of Britain’s new “green industrial revolution,” the sale of hybrid vehicles also will be outlawed by 2035. The formal decision to shift to zero-emission powertrain technology comes barely two months after British lawmakers signaled their interest in speeding up the transformation.
“Although this year has taken a very different path to the one we expected, the UK is looking to the future and seizing the opportunity to build back greener,” Johnson said in a statement released to the press. “The recovery of our planet and of our economies can and must go hand-in-hand.”
Under the new rules, existing vehicles running on gasoline – or petrol, as the Brits prefer – and diesel would still be available on the used car market. But no new vehicles could be sold unless they meet the mandate. On average, about 2.4 million new cars and “multi-purpose vehicles” are purchased in the UK annually, the market peaking at nearly 2.7 million in 2016.
The United Kingdom was one of the first to enact a ban, initially scheduled to go into effect in 2040 and then pushed up to 2035. Johnson’s government had come under increasing pressure to speed things up even further.
A study, jointly released in September by Greenpeace and the Green Alliance, contended that would be necessary in order to meet Britain’s commitment to address climate change. The official shift enacted this week is estimated to be capable of eliminating as much as 90 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions just between 2028 and 2032.
“This is yet more compelling evidence that 2030 is the best option for a blanket ban on new polluting vehicles,” Doug Parr, Greenpeace UK’s chief scientist, said upon the release of the study.
As part of the “green industrial strategy,” Johnson said he also plans to increase spending on public transportation, as well as on research aimed to reduce emissions from both aircraft and ships. The multi-part plan also calls for expanded use of sustainable energy sources, including not only wind and hydrogen, but also nuclear. Overall, it is expected to cost about 12 billion pounds, or nearly $16 billion.
Britain is scheduled to host the COP26 global climate conference in 2021 – the event delayed a year due to the coronavirus pandemic. The event could deliver big news as President-elect Joe Biden has signaled the U.S. would return to the Paris climate accords rejected by outgoing President Donald Trump.
Biden has also indicated he would abandon the rollback of the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards Trump had put in motion — but currently facing a legal challenge. He is also expected to lend further support to calls for speeding up sales of all-electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles. It is unclear whether Biden will back the move by California regulators who have set in motion the phase-out of internal combustion engines in medium and heavy-duty trucking.
Britain is just one of a number of countries that are putting place bans on internal combustion power. Some, like Norway, already plan to go all-electric within the next one to do decades. Others, including France and Germany, are considering similar moves. A number of cities around the world, including Berlin, Paris and Mexico City, are preparing similar bans.