The petrol and diesel vehicle ban: can alternatives catch up by 2040?

- Leadership - Jul 26, 2017

The UK government is set to announce that in a bid to tackle pollution caused by emissions, the nation will ban new petrol and diesel cars by 2040.

Chunks of the £3bn set aside by the government to spend on air quality will be offered to councils and local authorities to improve particular roads and towns, and the courts have ruled that the government must produce plans to tackle illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide.

While demand for hybrid and fully-electric vehicles is ever-growing, it is a slow process; many big car manufacturers, like BMW, are working hard to make electrification of their cars a main priority, but adoption is sluggish compared with sales of petrol and diesel vehicles.


Dr. Frederik Dahlmann, an Assistant Professor of Global Energy and researcher of the low carbon economy at Warwick Business School, believe that trends will continue to change for the better long before 2040, and offered the following comment:

"This is an important step in the right direction to improve air quality and reduce carbon emissions. At a time when policy certainty is a rare commodity, setting a clear long-term target provides industry with an indication over the direction of travel for how it should plan ahead.

"It also gives car buyers an incentive to consider the different types of engine options available in light of the long-term development of the market. With the rapid development and deployment of electric vehicle models, there is a good chance that apart from buyers of ‘collectors’ items’ and ‘classic cars’, demand will have largely shifted well before the deadline. 

"Given the long-term nature of the policy initiative, however, significant questions remain. How does the government intend to improve air quality and reduce transport related emissions in the short term?

"While long-term planning and certainty are important, the need to address climate change and pollution related health concerns are important issues for today. There is also the need to consider the legacy effects of petrol and diesel cars still on the road. Likewise, infrastructure investments need to be adjusted to ensure the transition to cleaner forms of transportation doesn’t get stopped in its tracks."

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