Labour steps up push for 2030 petrol and diesel car sales ban

Transport is the UK’s biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions | Credit: Haidan

Transport is the UK’s biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions | Credit: Haidan

The opposition joins Greenpeace and Green Alliance in warning the government should introduce a ban of fossil-fuel cars by 2030 if it wants to meet its 2050 emissions target

Greenpeace and Green Alliance have today warned the government must ban sales of all new petrol, diesel, and hybrid cars and vans by 2030 if wants to stand a chance of meeting its 2050 net zero emissions target – a move that came in the same week as Labour stepped up its calls for Ministers to pull forward the date for ending the sale of conventional cars.

With transport responsible for the largest slice of the country’s emissions, a phase out of polluting vehicles by 2030 is the “single most important measure” the government can introduce to get the country on track to meet its long-term climate targets, the campaign groups warned in an analysis published today.

The report considered three different dates – 2030, 2032, and 2035 – and concluded that any phase-out plan past 2030 would result in the UK missing its 2050 net zero emissions target.

The report notes that enacting the more ambitious prohibition date for vehicles with conventional engines would mean the nation exceeds its the carbon saving targets by 17 per cent – giving the UK a “better chance” of reaching the longer-term net zero target – whereas a 2035 ban would result in the government missing its carbon target by 73 per cent.

Government Ministers are understood to be considering all three dates in ongoing discussions about bringing forward the existing 2040 deadline, with a decision expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

The intervention from the green groups comes the day after Labour called on the government to introduce a ban on internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles by 2030

Labour frontbenchers Matthew Pennycock, Kerry McCarthy, and Alan Whitehead stated in a letter addressed to the Transport Secretary that 2030 is an “ambitious and achievable” date for the ban.

Failure to set an ambitious plan risks hurting the car industry and the UK’s credibility on a global stage as the country gears up to host the COP26 climate summit next year, they said.

Calls for the government to bring forward its ban on polluting cars extend far beyond green groups and opposition parties, with recent advocates include more than 100 Conservatives MP, oil and gas majors Shell and BP, and government climate advisors the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), which argued in June that the phase out must be delivered by “at least 2032”.

Greenpeace UK chief scientist Doug Parr emphasised today that the phase out was the “single most important measure the government can take to get us on track to meeting our existing carbon targets, which the government is required to meet by law”.

With the UK’s fifth carbon very likely to be adjusted to account for the government’s 2050 net zero target, the emission reductions required between 2028 and 2032 are likely to toughened, he emphasised. “A 2030 ban for all new petrol, diesel and hybrid cars and vans would still close a substantial chunk of the emissions gap in that scenario, which further underscores the need to go for the 2030 date without exemptions,” he said.

Meanwhile, Caterina Brandmayr, head of climate at Green Alliance, warned the UK’s climate leadership would be undermined if action is not taken to put the country on track to meet its 2050 climate target.

“To be a real leader on the climate crisis, especially given the UK’s presidency of the G7 and COP26 in 2021, we have to get back on track to our long-term climate targets – bringing this phase-out date forward to 2030, with no exemptions, would mark a bold and ambitious leap in the right direction,” she said. “Our evidence makes a clear case, it is now for the government to act.”

The latest interventions come amidst reports that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is preparing to deliver a major speech on the government’s plans for a green recovery that would put it back on track to deliver net zero emissions by 2050. An article in The Times today said that Johnson was more excited by the net zero transition than any other part of the government’s agenda and revealed that Number 10 was particularly keen on the idea of turbocharging the development of the UK’s nascent hydrogen industry.

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