Moving the deadline forward.

We’ve seen the writing on the wall for some time now, and understood that sales of new gasoline and diesel vehicles, including motorcycles, are to be banned in the UK from 2040. Today, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the country can’t afford to wait that long. The new ban will instead take hold in 2035. 

This policy adjustment comes ahead of planned United Nations climate summit COP26, which will be held in Glasgow, Scotland in November 2020. This ban also includes both hybrid and plug-in hybrid cars, which were not previously covered in the 2040 plan, according to the BBC. If everything goes according to this plan, people purchasing new vehicles would only be able to purchase electric or hydrogen vehicles from 2035 forward.

The UK’s current goal is to get to net zero emissions by 2050, and experts warned that the 2040 deadline would be too late if the UK was serious about achieving that goal. Climate activists want to see the goal moved further forward to 2030, and say that even with this new goal, the country will still lag behind the rest of Europe in taking action. Meanwhile, automobile trade groups argue that the 2035 deadline is unrealistic, and that consumer demand for alternative vehicles just isn’t there yet. 

Another possible impediment to consumer adoption of electric vehicles is the fact that currently available UK electric vehicle grants are scheduled to go away in March 2020. That further disincentivizes people from making the switch—particularly if making it work with your personal financial situation is already a struggle. 

This ban would impact new vehicle sales only, with further plans to get all petrol and diesel vehicles off of UK roads by 2050. However, no plans for a nationwide scrappage initiative have been announced at this point. 

London Mayor Sadiq Khan currently has an Ultra-Low Emissions Zone car and motorcycle scrappage scheme in place, which helps low-income and disabled Londoners scrap older vehicles in favor of less polluting ones. However, this plan only applies for residents of the 32 London boroughs and the City of London. 

Sources: BBC, The Guardian, Financial Times, Transport For London