The government is consulting on ending the sale of new petrol, diesel and hybrid cars and vans, and have asked for responses to five questions. We are saying that they should be phased out as fast as possible, and by no later than 2030. The full response is here:
I am submitting this consultation response on behalf of York Green Party.
1. The phase out date
The Government should bring forward the date for phasing out the sale of new petrol, diesel and hybrid cars to 2030, for the following reasons:
- Reducing UK carbon emissions: Greenhouse gas emissions are causing climate change, and we are rapidly using up the remaining “carbon budget” if we are to meet even the Paris Agreement target of keeping warming below 2°C. Transport is the UK’s biggest single source of CO2. The Committee on Climate Change have made it clear that the government’s current plans to decarbonise transport don’t go far enough to meet our net zero target, and even a phase out date of 2035 is not ambitious enough.
- Reducing deaths from air pollution: Half the particulate pollution from cars comes from their engines, and although there have been some moves by manufacturers to lower emissions we have also seen the scandal of them cheating the system. Air pollution kills around 28,000 to 36,000 people each year in England alone, according to Public Health England. We need to rapidly reduce air pollution to reduce these deaths and illnesses. Removing engine emissions needs to be a priority.
- Showing global leadership: Moving more quickly on eliminating petrol and diesel vehicles could be a focus for collective action by countries at COP 26, something the UK Government has acknowledged. The position of the UK to provide global leadership would be much stronger with a phase-out date as fast as any but the fastest of nations.
- Creating jobs in a green recovery: A faster transition to electric vehicles presents a significant opportunity for creating green jobs as the UK recovers from Covid-19. Economic opportunity: Analysis by Committee on Climate Change shows that a 2030 phase-out date for electric vehicles would be more cost effective for UK than the previous 2040 date. The UK is well-placed to take advantage of the economic opportunities that come with a 2030 phase-out date given our specialism in vehicle assembly, battery management and smart grid technology.
2. Which vehicles should be phased out
The sale of all new cars and vans with petrol and diesel engines, including hybrid cars, should be banned by 2030, with an intermediate target of 50% of car sales by 2025 being zero emission. hybrid vehicles are not zero emission and therefore should be included in the 50% fossil fuelled cars. Many cars that are purchased in 2035 will still be present in 2050 unless they are retired prematurely, so it is important to act quickly.
3. Barriers to achieving the above proposals
- Power generation and distribution: Experts including National Grid, Chargemaster and Cenex agree that a 2030 date is deliverable. The main challenges will be in:
- Ensuring take up by local authorities.
- Supporting reskilling for workers. This is especially important in places such as Liverpool, my hometown, where 700 people are currently employed at Fords at Halewood, Speke.
- Lapsing EU regulations: A 2030 phase-out date, backed up by intermediate targets and regulations, provides a legal incentive for foreign companies to sell zero emissions vehicles into the UK market.
- Battery availability: Considerable work has been done on developing batteries that are cheap enough and can provide sufficient power to be viable. It is clear that progress on this is rapidly improving. However, the government needs to increase research in the area if the UK is to be a leader in the field of batteries.
- Opposition from car manufacturers: Car manufacturers will lobby heavily for a longer period and / or subsidies for conversion as they wish to maximise their return on investment. Only clear legislation on this, and including it in any trade deal, will ensure that the target can be delivered.
4. The impact of these ambitions on different sectors of industry and society
A 2030 phase out date represents an opportunity for the UK to stay ahead in the global electric vehicle market. The right government support, including a 2030 phase out date, would give the UK an advantage that would attract private investment and could put the UK in a position to make up to 1 million electric vehicles every year, creating thousands of jobs.
In terms of broader impacts, a 2030 phase out date would have a positive impact on public health.
5. What measures are required by government and others to achieve the earlier phase out date
- Clear guidance from government: Car manufacturers need to be told quickly that this will be happening and that they need to get ready
- Appropriate charging infrastructure: National Grid and power generators need to ensure that there is sufficient capacity in the system
- Local charging infrastructure: Some local councils are already putting charging points in lamp posts. On street charging needs to be widely available, especially in areas where people do not have off-street parking (eg terraced housing). Clear guidance from the government to councils and capital to build the infrastructure will be required, otherwise many councils will not be able to build the necessary infrastructure.
- Removal of perverse incentives: some people may consider buying petrol or diesel cars just before the deadline. This should be discouraged through taxes on fossil fuel cars and fossil fuels to cross-subsidise electric cars to ensure that they are more economic.