Britain is planning to ban the sale of new gas, diesel and hybrid cars beginning in 2035, according to Reuters. This ban comes five years ahead of when it was originally scheduled to start.
- This ban on gas, diesel, and hybrid cars is a part of achieving its net zero emissions goal by 2050.
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson made the announcement to raise the United Kingdom’s profile as an environmentally conscious nation.
- This comes after he fired the head of the Glasgow United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), due to be held in November.
- Brexit could make reaching those goals more challenging.
Reducing emissions in Britain now is the key to meeting future targets. (Photo: Getty Images)
Dealing with emissions now
At the launch event for the COP26, held at London’s Science Museum, Johnson commented on the challenge of dealing with CO2 emissions. He said it’s a problem that needs to be dealt with not just as a country, but as a planet, and that action needs to be taken now.
Britain has pledged to reach net zero heating emissions by 2050 and was the first G7 country to announce such a goal. According to Reuters, Johnson used the launch event for COP26 to encourage other countries to develop targets for becoming carbon-neutral and create actionable plans for reaching those targets. The British government’s decision to end the sale of all gas, diesel, and hybrid cars and vans in 2035 is part of its plan to reach net zero. The date, however, is dependent on consultation. This leaves open the possibility of moving the date further out if it’s too aggressive or bringing it in closer if possible.
Governments are reacting to the problem of vehicle emissions with a variety of bans, but the ban in the United Kingdom is more all-encompassing than most. Diesel vehicles have been a prime target since the Volkswagen emissions scandal with the mayors of Paris, Madrid, Mexico City, and Athens all planning to ban diesel vehicles from their city centers by 2025. France is taking an approach more in line with the UK. It is banning all fossil fuel-powered cars by 2040. That’s five extra years for France to plan and build the charging infrastructure necessary to support a nation’s worth of electric vehicles.
Britain’s exit from the European Union poses extra challenges. (Photo: Getty Images)
The complication of Brexit
The issue gets a bit more complicated for Britain with its decision to leave the European Union. It will need to enact a series of new free trade agreements that support its environmental goals. In addition to putting together trade deals that support the economy and the environment, Brexit creates new gaps where environmental laws that apply in Europe no longer apply in Britain.
According to Reuters, there are concerns that Britain won’t be able to meet its ambitious goals. It could try to stay aligned with Europe or it could determine that coming up with its own goals and standards is a more viable option for the country. While the United Kingdom no longer has the bargaining power that comes with being a part of the EU, it also gains a certain amount of freedom. It’s no longer constrained by EU goals and can make its own. Trade agreements that fall in line with its net zero goals and help the economy are key to fostering Britain’s environmental objectives.
WHY THIS MATTERS
Vehicle emissions are a problem, especially in big cities. Banning vehicles can reduce emissions, but it’s a big leap from banning these cars in proscribed areas like cities and across an entire country. Britain also faces a greater challenge than other European nations by having to create trade agreements to support its goals and build the necessary charging infrastructure simultaneously.