Written by: Kimberly White 

The UK government is phasing out petrol, diesel, and hybrid cars by 2035. The sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans will be banned as of 2035. After the ban comes into effect, only electric and hydrogen vehicles will be available for purchase. 

People will still be able to purchase and drive used petrol or diesel cars following the deadline. 

First announced in 2017, the UK government initially set the deadline for 2040. However, experts warned that the 2040 deadline would be too late for the UK to achieve its goal of net zero emissions by 2050.  

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the accelerated timeline at the launch of COP26 on February 4th alongside Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Sir David Attenborough. The United Kingdom is set to host the 2020 UN Climate Change Conference in November. The UK won over international partners and will host the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) in partnership with Italy. 

“Hosting COP26 is an important opportunity for the UK and nations across the globe to step up in the fight against climate change,” said Johnson. “ As we set out our plans to hit our ambitious 2050 net zero target across this year, so we shall urge others to join us in pledging net zero emissions.”

“There can be no greater responsibility than protecting our planet, and no mission that a Global Britain is prouder to serve. 2020 must be the year we turn the tide on global warming– it will be the year when we choose a cleaner, greener future for all,” continued Johnson. 

Road transport makes up for a fifth of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK. The ban would aid the UK in tackling the climate crisis as well as air pollution. 

Air pollution has been an ongoing issue for the United Kingdom, not only costing billions of pounds but also thousands of lives. According to the environmental group, Friends of the Earth UK, air pollution causes up to 36,000 premature deaths in the UK each year.

Globally, air pollution claims the lives of approximately 7 million people each year. Air pollution has been linked to cancer, respiratory illnesses, and heart disease. 

“The government is right to accelerate the phase-out of petrol and diesel cars to curb air pollution and address the climate emergency, but the ban should start in 2030 – not 2035,” said Mike Childs, Head of Policy at Friends of the Earth. “A new 2035 target will still leave the UK in the slow-lane of the electric car revolution and meantime allow more greenhouse gases to spew into the atmosphere.”

Norway has one of the most ambitious goals for phasing out fossil fuel-based vehicles. Norway plans to eliminate the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2025. The ambitious deadline comes as no surprise as electric vehicles have become a hit in the country. In 2018, nearly half of all new passenger car sales were electric or hybrid. 

Header Image Credit: UK Prime Minister/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)