UK Sets 2040 Ban on Diesel, Petrol Cars, Holds Off on Scrappage Program
The United Kingdom will ban sales of diesel and petrol cars in 2040 as part of a £3-billion clean air strategy unveiled this week.
“The government warned that the move, which will also take in hybrid vehicles, was needed because of the unnecessary and avoidable impact that poor air quality was having on people’s health,” The Guardian reports. “Ministers believe it poses the largest environmental risk to public health in the UK, costing up to £2.7 billion in lost productivity in one recent year.”
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The plan includes a £255-million fund, beginning with an immediate infusion of £40 million, to help local governments reduce emissions and improve air quality. It may also allow local authorities to establish “charging zones”, where fees would apply to emissions in high-pollution areas.
Cities “can use the funds for a range of measures, such as changing road layouts, implementing new technologies, or encouraging residents onto public transport,” BBC reports. “If those measures do not cut emissions enough, charging zones could be the next step—but the government says these should only be used for ‘limited periods.’”
The government decided to “inject additional urgency” into the planning process, giving cities eight months to develop initial plans rather than 18, after a High Court gave Westminster a July 31 deadline to improve its own adherence to EU pollution targets.
The plan includes a new Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill that “will allow the government to require the installation of charge points for electric vehicles at motorway service areas and large fuel retailers,” BBC states. Funding will come from a diesel tax and realignment of departmental budgets, though those details are still taking shape.
The federal government has been nervous about measures that would appear to punish drivers, and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has been pushing hard to prevent an outright ban on diesel vehicles.
Martin Tett, environment spokesperson for the Local Government Association, welcomed the additional authority and funding for councils to move from monitoring to improving air quality. But he was disappointed the government had held off on a scrappage program that “could help increase the uptake of lower emission vehicles”.