Petrol and diesel cars could be banned in the UK by 2030
There have been calls for the ban of petrol and diesel cars in the UK to be brought forward, as the 2040 target “lacks sufficient ambition”, said MPs.
A new joint committee report has urged the Government to determine the earliest date manufacturers must sell only alternatively fuelled vehicles in the UK.
It was launched amid concerns surrounding the Government’s repeat court challenges over their air quality plan from environmental lawyers.
Other motives of the plan were to try and reduce the estimated 40,000 premature deaths each year in the UK.
Car emissions are linked to, and can cause, respiratory issues, heart disease and even dementia.
Elsewhere in the plan were calls for the automotive industry to contribute to a new clean air fund.
The ongoing problem with car emissions, mainly nitrogen dioxide emissions which are present in higher quantities in diesel cars, started with the Volkswagen scandal in 2015.
Nervousness and uncertainty surrounding diesel has led to a decline in the the fuel type’s market share from 47 per cent in 2016 to 37.8 per cent in 2017.
Automakers have hit back at ministers claiming that the they have an anti-diesel agenda which is causing the decline in sales
Last year it was announced that the sale of new petrol and diesel cars would be banned in the UK by 2040.
The Commons’ Environment Food and Rural Affairs, Environmental Audit, Health and Social Care, and Transport Committees warned that this did not do enough to address the issue.
There is insufficient urgency in current policies to accelerate vehicle fleet renewal
Their report said: “There is insufficient urgency in current policies to accelerate vehicle fleet renewal.
“Whilst we welcome the Government’s commitment to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2040, this target lacks sufficient ambition.
“It is too distant to produce a step-change in industry and local government planning, and falls far behind similar commitments from other countries.”
Other countries and cities across Europe have stated more ambitious plans to slash air pollution.
Rome plans to stop diesel cars from entering its centre by 2024, while authorities in Paris want to ban both petrol and diesel cars by 2030.
Other cities including Athens, Madrid and Mexico City are also considering restrictions.
In addition to the automotive fund, there have been calls for a Clean Air Act to “enshrine the right to clean air in UK law” and a national air quality support programme for councils.
Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said latest government reports show there have been improvements in air quality but he accepted that “more needs to be done”.
He went on: “Road transport is a major contributor which is why the UK automotive industry is investing billions in technology and other measures to help address the challenge.
“We should not divert investment away from the development of new, low emission vehicles as the fastest improvement to air quality in our towns and cities will be through the uptake of the latest technology.”
Pollution emitted by cars can cause respiratory issues
A Government spokesman said: “By ending the sale of conventional new diesel and petrol cars and vans from 2040, the UK is going further than almost every other European nation.
“Air pollution has improved significantly since 2010, but we recognise there is more to do which is why we have a £3.5billion plan to reduce harmful emissions. We will set out further actions through a comprehensive clean air strategy later this year.
“We will carefully consider the joint committee’s report and respond in due course.”
Rosie Rogers, clean air campaigner at Greenpeace, called on the ban to be implemented by 2030 at the latest.
She said: “We now know diesel is toxic so there can be no more excuses and no more delays.
“The Government must prioritise public health and bring forward its phase-out date by at least 10 years.
“Other countries have managed it, and people who live in the UK deserve clean air just as much.”
Martin Tett, environment spokesman at the Local Government Association, said: “The 2040 target set by the Government for the end of the sale of conventionally-fuelled vehicles is too far away to tackle a public health problem that is shortening lives now.
“It cannot overlook the immediate measures that could have drastic improvements on public health in areas where air quality problems are at their most severe.”
Alison Cook, director of policy at the British Lung Foundation, said diesel is an “invisible danger” and “the sooner these vehicles are off our roads the healthier we will all be”.