Boris Johnson has announced that the UK will accelerate its plan to phase out the internal combustion engine by five years to fast-track its climate goals by the mid-century.
The initial plan was unveiled in 2017 by then Prime Minister, Theresa May, stating that as of 2040, the sale of petrol and diesel-powered vehicles would be banned in an effort to curb emission rates.
Taking the reigns from his predecessor, Johnson launched a “clean energy revolution” platform for his government, stating that this would be achieved through “the power of science, innovation and technology.”
Now, under Johnson’s plan, 2035 would be the year that the UK imposed a ban on the internal combustion engine. The acceleration was first pushed by Grant Shapps, the UK’s Transport Secretary in October, last year.
“The government’s own advisory committee on climate change said 2035 is a date for which we should aim for,” he told attendees of the Conservative Party conference. “We need to test these arguments and work in partnership with industry to examine how to proceed.”
The initial 2040 date faced some criticism for its lack of urgency, according to some reports stating that a joint committee report commissioned in 2018 said the 2040 date lacked “sufficient ambition” to effectively tackle the climate threat.
According to a report from the UK’s Telegraph, “just 1% of vehicles sold this year are battery-electric,” citing data from the Commons’ Environmental Food and Rural Affairs, Environmental Audit, Heal and Social Care, and Transport Committees warned that “there is insufficient urgency in current policies to accelerate vehicle fleet renewal.”
They continued to explain that “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,” they added.
According to statistics published by The Telegraph, “air pollution causes an estimated 40,000 premature deaths a year in the UK and is linked to health problems from childhood illnesses to heart disease.”
George Freeman, one of the UK’s Transport Ministers said that he was “cheered” by Volkswagen’s move to accelerate the production of electric vehicles for 2025 after it was found to have cheated several environmental regulators regarding carbon monoxide emissions on its vehicles.
“We have momentum, we have know-how, we have industry commitment. Many people haven’t made the shift from electric motoring being a nice idea, a vision, to being a practical reality that we are going to do,” Freeman said.