Earlier phase-out of fossil-fuel cars in the UK welcomed

Announcement to clarify and bring forward phase-out of cars with engines commended by Transport & Environment 

Campaign and research group Transport and Environment UK (T&E) congratulates the UK government for its bold proposal to end sales of all cars with engines within 15 years and, if possible, earlier. The announcement is an essential step towards the goal of achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

T&E also welcomes the clarity that there is no long-term role for so called “self-charging” or “plug-in” hybrids in the future and that, by the mid-2030s, all new vehicle sales should be zero emission at the tailpipe. It is also clear that renewable liquid fuels, whether advanced biofuels or electrofuels, have no long-term role in road transport but will be important in decarbonising aviation.

Greg Archer, UK director at T&E, said: “This is a bold target that shows a serious commitment to clean up the UK’s cars and vans. The government must now quickly implement the regulations needed to make it happen by requiring carmakers to sell increasing numbers of zero-emission cars every year until the phase-out is complete. Clear rules, with dissuasive penalties for auto-companies, are the best way to ensure the target is reached.”

Sales of battery electric cars in the UK are expected to more than double this year to over 3% driven by regulations on new car CO2 emissions and reformed company car taxes. In 2021, sales are forecast to at least double again to around 7%. But T&E warned selling electric cars is not a silver bullet and it is important to also tackle transport CO2 emissions from cars and vans by reducing their use through funding better walking and cycling facilities and public transport. 

To sell only zero-emission cars and vans by 2035, T&E estimates sales will need to reach about a third of all new sales by 2025 and over two-thirds by 2030 (more than twice the share anticipated by current EU rules). The announcement, if implemented, would make the UK a leader in the global shift to zero-emission vehicles with improved prospects for attracting manufacturing of vehicles and batteries.

T&E also warned that plug-in grants of £3,500 for zero-emission cars are due to end in March. T&E urges the government to reform the grant for battery electric cars by requiring people buying new cars with engines to pay a higher registration tax to fund the grants. A similar scheme has successfully operated in France since 2008.

Greg Archer added: “It would be schizophrenic to allow the plug-in grant to end in March just as the market is taking off and the government is legislating to phase out cars with engines. The grant must be retained for one more year and reformed.”

In the UK, 98% of all hotspots of toxic air are caused by traffic. Transport now emits more CO2 than any other sector - 27% of total greenhouse gas emissions, excluding international aviation and shipping - and its emissions remain virtually unchanged since 1990. Cars and vans are the cause of over 60% of transport CO2 emissions. 

Contact the press team

Nico Muzi
Communications Director
+32 (0)484 27 87 91 
nico.muzi@transportenvironment.org

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