In 2017, the car industry was dominated by the news that all petrol and diesel cars will be banned from 2040. The issue continues to be debated by politicians, as ministers have said that three-fifths of new cars must be electric by 2030 in order to meet greenhouse gas targets. This has been suggested by the Committee on Climate Change. The announcement came after Theresa May launched a 25-year plan to protect the environment, which includes eliminating all avoidable plastic waste by 2042.
The government have said the UK is cutting emissions faster than any other G7 nation. The committee believe the new Clean Growth Plan is an improvement, but there aren’t any detailed policies on meeting legal carbon targets. Committee leader, Lord Deben has said the car industry needs to be more responsible. “If you’re going to sell an electric car your dealers have got to understand…so training dealers is essential. If you’re running a big fossil fuel company, you have to start thinking about the realities of when, not if, because it is not any longer, we use a lot less fossil fuels.”
The committee have urged 30 to 70% of new cars need to have ultra-low emission by 2030, while 40% of new vans should follow suit. Currently, less than 5% of new car sales are “alternatively fuelled,” including hybrid models. Lord Deben added “the government’s policies will need to be firmed up as a matter of urgency and supplemented with additional measures if the UK is to deliver on legal commitments and secure its position as an international climate change leader. All departments now need to look at their contribution towards cutting emissions – including the Department for Transport.”
A spokesperson from the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, Richard Black, echoed Lord Deben’s point. “We’re not on track to meet emission goals that kick in in just five years’ time. That leaves ministers little time for enquiries and consultations – they’re going to have to put new policies in place first.” Black has suggested that cutting company car tax for electric vehicles and repealing the ban on onshore wind power will help.
Making cars more environmentally friendly will be beneficial in the long term. But it could be argued that the government are spinning too many plates at once. Transitioning from petrol and diesel to electric is a major shift and one that could take longer than 2040. It’s an ambitious project and lowering car emissions is a good start.
What do you think of the Committee on Climate Change’s proposal?