In a speech delivered on the net zero target during a press conference at the Downing Street Briefing Room, Central London, Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced that the government will push back the ban on the sale of new petrol- and diesel-powered vehicles in the UK from 2030 to 2035. This means that the British people can buy internal combustion engine cars and vans until 2035. However, PM expects that 'the vast majority' of models will use an electric powertrain setup. It is important to note that this ban, which was due to come into force in 2030, applies only to new cars. As for existing cars (both petrol and diesel), people would 'still be able to buy and sell them second-hand' after 2035. This decision is in alignment with the approach followed by other countries, such as Germany, France, Spain, Australia, Canada, and some US states, including California, New York, etc.
Still Committed to Net Zero by 2050, said PM Sunak
The delay on the ban of ICE models is part of key changes in 'green' policies that were announced by Rishi Sunak at the press meet, although he is still committed to reducing the UK's emissions of greenhouse gases to net zero by 2050. In his statement, he said, ‘I’m confident that we can adopt a more pragmatic, proportionate, and realistic approach to meeting Net Zero that eases the burdens on working people.
‘We’re working hard to make the UK a world leader. I’m proud that we’ve already attracted billions of new investments from companies like Tata’s Jaguar Land Rover gigafactory. And I expect that by 2030, the vast majority of cars sold will be electric. Why? Because the costs are reducing; the range is improving; and the charging infrastructure is growing.’
Climate Change Committee Report
U.K. greenhouse gas emissions have fallen by 46 per cent as compared to what they were in 1990, owing to the reduction in the use of coal for electricity generation and growth of the renewable power sector, according to the Climate Change Committee (CCC), the UK's independent advisor on tackling climate change. The government has promised to reduce emissions by 68 per cent of 1990 levels by 2030 and to reach the net zero target by 2050.
UK Delays Ban on ICE Models: Mixed Reactions
The PM also emphasised the need to allow more time to facilitate a smooth transition to electric vehicles, while leaving the choice to the people. He stated, ‘I also think that at least for now, it should be you the consumer that makes that choice, not the government forcing you to do it. Because the upfront cost is still high, especially for families struggling with the cost of living.
‘And we’ve got further to go to get that charging infrastructure truly nationwide. And we need to strengthen our own auto industry, so we aren’t reliant on heavily subsidised, carbon-intensive imports, from countries like China. So, to give us more time to prepare, I’m announcing today that we’re going to ease the transition to electric vehicles.’
All this attracted mixed reactions from green groups, political parties, and the auto industry, with some welcoming the change, while others expressing frustration. The British manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover welcomed the move by calling it 'pragmatic' and adding that it will bring the nation in line with others.
Meanwhile, Lisa Brankin, Ford UK Chair, said, ‘Our business needs three things from the UK government: ambition, commitment and consistency. A relaxation of 2030 would undermine all three.’