Deadline to stop UK becoming a gas guzzler ‘dumping ground’

T&E is warning that the United Kingdom could become the dumping ground for gas guzzling new cars if a piece of Brexit legislation is not in force by the end of this year. It has described the legislation as ‘little more than a sticking plaster’, and says the UK government is falling behind the clock in its efforts to phase out petrol and diesel vehicles.

An agreement that ties the British to EU rules expires on 31 December, and the UK parliament is incorporating into British law those parts of EU legislation that it wants to keep. The UK government has therefore proposed a ‘Statutory Instrument’, a law that will regulate CO2 emissions from new cars and vans from 1 January. But with less than four months to get this law passed, T&E fears it may miss its deadline, which would enable carmakers to stop selling electric cars in the UK and instead dump high CO2 models on the UK market that they would be penalised for selling elsewhere in Europe.

T&E’s UK director Greg Archer says: ‘The clock is ticking, and the British transport ministry needs to urgently finalise and introduce the new law into parliament. When it does so, it should correct the proposed weakening of existing EU regulations – the law proposes that average CO2 emissions from new cars sold in the UK could be 5% higher than those allowed in the EU, a concession added to appease carmakers.’

The UK government says it will ban the sale of all cars and vans fuelled by petrol and diesel by 2035 and may even announce an earlier date. It is also due to propose a ‘Transport Decarbonisation Plan’ later this year setting out ways of achieving this. But T&E has warned the proposed new Statutory Instrument on CO2 emissions is totally out of step with the 2035 goal, as it will mean the number of zero-emission vehicles will fall well short of what is needed to meet the target.

Archer added: ‘This regulation is a sticking plaster and won’t achieve the government’s ambitious goal to quickly phase out sales of call cars and vans with engines. If the UK genuinely wants to be a leader in the shift to electric vehicles, and stimulate the investment and jobs this will create, it needs to effectively regulate carmakers – not recycle inadequate EU rules.’